One of the greatest joys of writing about my familiar plants has been finding them again after many years and then learning interesting facts about them.
A snowball bush at Heybeliada, Istanbul, summer of 2014
With the common name snowball there is some confusion for there are other plants, some that are members of the genus Viburnum, also called snowball bush. Viburnum is a genus of about 150-175 species of shrubs and small trees in the family Adoxaceae. Most species are native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere, with a few species extending into tropical regions of the world.
Viburnum opulus is an ornamental plant with white flowers that later produce red berries for which it has been misleadingly named European cranberry bush. This is not a cranberry plant.
I got to know and admire the cultivar Roseum, Viburnum opulus Roseum with its big white globular flower heads as a child. V. opulus Roseum is an old cultivar created in the 16th century in Europe, and it has been a cherished flower of gardeners ever since. The deciduous bush will grow up to 4m in height and in spread. It has an open structure and the outer branches hang slightly in maturity. The light green leaves are 3lobed. The shrub will turn orange-red in the fall.
The pompom-like flowers appear in profusion. They are green in color at first and in a couple of weeks turn pure white. At the season’s end they acquire a light rosy color as they fade. This gives the name of ‘Roseum’ to the bush. There is no etymological information on either viburnum or opulus.
The 8 cm diameter inflorencences of Roseum are sterile. They do not have fertile florets and the shrub does not produce berries in the fall. Roseum is sometimes sold as V. opulus Sterile.
The snowball flowers bloom around May.