Viburnum prunifolium is a shrub to 5 m tall, tree-like habit usually with one main trunk, older bark dark, fissures square, habit stiff, upright, branches tending to be at right angles to axis; winter buds with 2 scales that do not overlap, rusty-mealy, about as wide as twig, bluntly pointed.
Leaves opposite to 8 cm long, shiny above, cherry-like, egg-shaped to elliptic, margin finely toothed.
Flowers white, to 0.7 cm wide, in dense, umbrella-shaped clusters to 10 cm wide, April-May; inflorescence broad, flat.
Fruit fleshy, blue-black to 1.5 cm wide, 1-seeded, sweetish. Seed load 27%. Pulp nutrients: water 58%, lipid 2%, protein 2%, CHO 20% (White 1989). Fruit eaten by small mammals, song and game birds, twigs and foliage eaten by rabbits, deer. Dispersal to and establishment in new sites in successional forest, contiguous to old regrowth stands has been calculated at a rate of 1.92 m/yr (Matlack 1994).
Wetland status: FACU.
Frequency in NYC: Common.
Habitat: Woodland understories, old-fields in fairly good soil. Grows rather slowly. Open woods, open sites, edges; soil pH 5.0-8.5 (Hightshoe 1988; Gargiullo unpublished data). Tolerates drought. Intolerant of salt, flooding, soil compaction, shade, index 2-4 (Hightshoe 1988).