Viburnum edule (Squashberry)

Plant Info
Also known as: Highbush Cranberry, Lowbush Cranberry, Mooseberry
Family:Adoxaceae (Moschatel)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, sun; rocky or gravelly soil; lake shores, river banks, boreal forest openings, talus slopes, cliffs
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:2 to 8 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: flat Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] Rounded clusters, about 1 inch across, on short, two-leaved lateral branchlets of one-year old stems, typically with fewer than 20 flowers in a cluster. Flowers are creamy white or with a hint of pink, about ¼ inch across, bell to nearly saucer-shaped with 5 rounded petal-like lobes, the edges often wrinkled. The 5 creamy-tipped stamens in the center do not extend much out of the short tube; the single style in the center is short and reduced. The 5 sepals are sharply triangular, less than 1 mm long, often reddish.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[scan of leaves] Leaves are simple and opposite, with two forms. Earlier leaves on lower stems are broadly egg-shaped to nearly round in outline, 2 to 3 inches long and about as wide, with three shallow lobes towards the tip, wedge-shaped to rounded to somewhat heart-shaped at the base, and palmate venation with a ¼ to ¾ inch stalk. Later leaves that form the final pair at the tips of new branches can be unlobed, lance-elliptic, twice as long as wide, the tip tapered to a long, slender point, pinnately veined, and the base rounded or tapered to the stalk. Edges are coarsely toothed, upper surfaces are darker green and hairless, lower surface lighter with hairs along major veins and in the vein axils, some glandular.

[photo of glands on leaf stalk] The leaf stalk is mostly smooth with glandular dots, with two or more prominent glands near the tip, or more often at the edge of the blade where it joins the stalk. Stems and branches are typically few, erect to spreading. Younger twigs are smooth, green or reddish with a few scattered lenticels (pores), older bark becoming grayish brown and roughened.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit, By Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service {CC BY 3.0 us (}, via Wikimedia Commons] Fruit is a fleshy, berry-like drupe, ¼ to ½ inch in diameter, green turning bright red and juicy, and containing a single seed.


Due to its general rarity, Squashberry is the least well know of Minnesota's native Viburnums. A northern boreal species, the southern edges of its range barely extend into northern Minnesota, New England, Rocky Mountains and the Cascades. Unlike the American Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum opulus. var. americanum), it is a smallish shrub with stems typically sprawling in the ground layer, often not much taller than knee height and both flower and fruit clusters sparse and inconspicuous. It is most common along the rocky shoreline forests of Lake Superior. It has no characteristics that jump out at an observer and its leaves are vaguely similar to Mountain Maple (Acer spicatum), Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) or species of Gooseberry, all of which a typically far more robust in their growth. Minus the flowers or few bright red fruit present, the pair of lance-elliptic leaves at branch tips may be the best diagnostic characteristic.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cook County. Fruit photo by Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service [CC BY 3.0 us (], via Wikimedia Commons


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Mary Kay - Duluth
on: 2018-07-25 16:53:02

I think we are battling these in our yard at the top of the hill in Duluth, bordering on young woods with aspens and young maples and oaks. Berries in July are white ripening to bright red. About 4 to 5 feet tall stalks, seem to spread by a long tough horizontal root with stems coming straight up. Stems are green with brown patches. Trying to identify this thing, it is helping to shelter young buckthorn and it is very satisfying to use the weed wrench on both.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-07-25 18:13:03

Mary Kay, you are probably mistaken in your ID.

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