Black Haw

Black haw (Viburnum prunifolium) is a small growing native understory tree that prefers deep, rich, somewhat moist soils. Found from Connecticut southward to Alabama, the haw resembles a tree in the southern part of its range, and has a more shrub-like appearance to the north. The plant has a flat topped white flower that grows in clusters and a simple leaf that looks a lot like the cherry leaf, hence the prunifolium species designation. The bark is reddish brown, and it gets very rough on older trees. The fruit of the haw ripens to a deep bluish-black, and it is devoured by birds when it develops in the fall.

The colorful black haw in the fall

The bark, berries, and fruit of the black haw were used by Native Americans for a number of uses, many of which are still in wide use today, mostly for gynecological conditions. The chemical, salicin, a main ingredient in aspirin, is extracted from the haw. Black haws are gaining some popularity as native landscape plants for their attractive flowers, beautiful fall colors, and bird-friendly berries.

Article by FCFCDB members

Nature Notes for 11/1/2015