Viburnum rafinesquianum (Downy Arrrow-wood)
|Also known as:|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade, sun; dry to moist sandy or rocky soil; hardwood and mixed forest understory, thickets|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||6 to 10 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Rounded flower clusters, ¾ to 2¼ inches across, at tips of one-year old branches. Flowers are creamy white, about ¼ inch across, bell to saucer-shaped with 5 broad, rounded lobes. In the center are 5 long, pale yellow-tipped stamens and a single style.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are simple and opposite, the blades mostly egg-shaped, 1½ to 3 inches long, 1 to 2 inches wide, coarsely toothed, tapered to a point and rounded at the base, on a stalk 1/8 to ½ inch long. At the base of the stalk is a pair of slender, nearly thread-like appendages (stipules).
The upper surface is dark green with sparse hairs, lower surface paler and hairy, sometimes hairy just along the veins. Main stems are multiple from base, notably slender and straight, bark brownish gray to gray, mostly smooth though rougher at the base, the largest stems only 1 to 1¼ inch diameter.
Downy Arrow-wood is common in forest understories and along woodland margins. In heavier shade it is somewhat sparse but in the open can form dense, shrubby thickets. It is similar to the Southern Arrow-wood (Viburnum dentatum), which is not native in Minnesota but more common as a landscape shrub and is generally larger with nearly hairless leaves, longer leaf stalks, heavier fruit clusters, and lacks the stipules at the base of the leaf stalk. As the common name suggests, both are noted or their narrow, straight stem that were preferred for making arrows by native Americans. There are two varieties of V. rafinesquianum, both found in Minnesota. While the differences are not always obvious, var. rafinesquianum has shorter leaf stalks and is more consistently hairy on the lower leaf surface, where in var. affine, the underside hairs are more restricted to the veins and the leaf stalks are consistently longer.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Downy Arrow-wood plant
- Downy Arrow-wood plant
- flowering branches
- scan of leaves
- pollinators: mining bee and long-horn beetle
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Becker counties, MN, and in North Dakota. Pollinator photos courtesy Heather Holm.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?