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Hobblebush, Witch Hobble, Hobbleberry - Viburnum lantanoides


Family: Adoxaceae - Muskroot Family Genus Common Name: Viburnum Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Shrub
Viburnum lantanoides - Hobblebush, Witch Hobble, Hobbleberry. Viburnum is a large genus in the Adoxaceae (Muskroot) family (formerly Caprifoliaceae), with 150 to 200 species worldwide - mostly in Asia and South America, but with 30 to 35 found in the wild in the United States. There are also a number of cultivars - think Snowball Bush. I most frequently confuse Viburnum with Hydrangea, although they are not closely related, probably because some species of both plants may have larger, sterile flowers around the outside of the inflorescence. The flowers of Viburnum will normally have 5 stamens, while those of Hydrangea will have 8 to 10. Both Viburnums and Hydrangeas normally appear as shrubs or small trees.

Viburnum lantanoides is a plant that prefers cool, moist places, found primarily in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, but also found into the southeastern United States in the upper elevations of the Appalachian Mountains. The photos on this page were taken at an elevation of over 4,000 feet in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Found in:
CT, GA, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, TN, VA, VT, WV

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Viburnum lantanoides

Distribution of Viburnum lantanoides in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 23 Aug 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Newfound Gap, GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2015-May-05Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The inflorescence of Viburnum lantanoides is a terminal cyme about 4 inches across consisting of many small, white, 5-lobed fertile flowers surrounded by a number of large, sterile blossom on the outer edge of the inflorescence. The fertile flowers have 5 stamens; Hyndrangea, which may have a similar inflorescence, has 8 to 10 stamens.
Viburnum lantanoides

Site: Newfound Gap, GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2015-May-05Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Witch Hobble is a loose plant up to 12 feet tall. It is many-branching, with the branches frequently reclining. Where they touch the ground they may take root. This makes it somewhat difficult to walk through a thicket, making it a “hobble”.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Viburnum lantanoides

Site: Newfound Gap, GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2015-May-05Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves of Witch Hobble are opposing, are distinctly veined, and are quite rough on the surface. They are ovate to nearly round except for the cordate (heart-shaped) base and the pointed tip. They have fine teeth.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Viburnum lantanoides

Site: Newfound Gap, GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2015-May-05Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The upper and lower surfaces of the leaves have rusty colored hairs when they are young.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Viburnum lantanoides

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer