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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Shrubs in Ireland ... Hedging in Ireland

Native Guelder rose ... Viburnum opulus ... An Chaor Chon


 
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James Kilkelly
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Joined: 30 May 2006
Posts: 2142
Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2007 12:13 am    Post subject: Native Guelder rose ... Viburnum opulus ... An Chaor Chon Reply with quote

Native Guelder rose ... Viburnum opulus ... An Chaor Chon

Have you an area within your garden where you find it difficult to grow anything due to soil which is soggy and partially shaded? Well there is a native Irish shrub that will not only thrive in those conditions, but it will also survive tempretures as low as -30°c, plus it attracts many forms of wildlife into your garden.

This shrub is commonly known as Guelder rose or its Latin name Viburnum opulus and it can actually be found growing wild here in Ireland on damp, limey soils throughout hedges woods and scrub land. Other names it may known by are Water elder, Whitten tree, Red elder, Rose elder, European cranberry bush, Crampbark or Snowball bush. The latter name Snowball bush came about due to the white clusters of flowers that appear on the plants each spring.

. Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) stem, leaf, fruit and flower, photo / pic / image.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Adoxaceae
Genus: Viburnum
Species: V. opulus

Chromosome number: 2n=18.


The plants "snowballs" which are 2 to 4 inches wide can be rounded or flat capped comprising clusters of both male and female 5-petalled flowers thus ensuring the plant is self-fertile. Thankfully this means this native will not die out anytime soon provided it is still visited by helpful pollinating insects.

Once pollinated the "snowballs" central flowers (female) develop into clusters of drooping, bright red berries from September to October. These resulting fruits are in my opinion possibly the most decorative ornamental berries this island produces, matched only by the fruit of the spindle berry. Wonderfully reflective skin coats the jolly red flesh of the Guelder roses fruit, causing it to resemble the cranberry, this look combined with the timing of its ripening seems to whisper Christmas is on its way.

The 1cm wide fruit does have its down points though, crushed fruit has an unpleasant smell and if eaten uncooked, the sour tasting fruit can lead to an upset stomach. The birds appreciate the juicy fruit however, devouring the berries then dispersing the single seed contained within each fruit through their droppings.

Berries and flowers are held comfortably on the irregular and multi-branched frame of grayish twigs and arching stems that make up the Guelder rose. Although not the most graceful looking of shrubs the 4 metre by 4 metre Guelder rose makes up for this with its thicket forming ability and uncanny knack of regrowth even when cut to ground level. I must not forget to mention the striking autumn colours that the plants foliage is known to produce, bright shades of yellow, red and purple are activated on lobed leaves which for the spring and summer months were just plain green.

. Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) autumn leaf colour, photo / pic / image.

So do you have a place for this native within your plot, possibly in a soggy or partially shaded location as mentioned earlier? You can employ it as hedging on its own, or else combine it with a few native evergreens to give year-round seclusion to your site through a mixed informal hedge. Even if you just plant one speciman, it will benefit your gardens visual appeal and its appeal to our native wildlife.

Other interesting facts about Guelder rose.

Having been used once to treat painful menstrual cramps this is how Viburnum opulus received the common name "Cramp Bark".

The wood contained within the plants stems is used in the production of skewers, much like our other native, the Spindle berry.

Guelder rose berries had their uses in Siberia, where they were often fermented and distilled to enable the production of an alcoholic spirit.

Both red and black dye can be extracted from the plants berries. The fresh red berries of course supply the red colour, whereas the black ink/dye requires the berries to be dried to a black colour before the black ink/dye can become available.


Chart shows approximate distribution of the native plant within Ireland, each dot is a 10km square in which the species grows.

Back to native Irish shrubs.

Guelder rose images courtesy
The Dow Gardens Archive, Dow Gardens, Bugwood.org
www.forestryimages.org

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Last edited by James Kilkelly on Fri Oct 26, 2007 12:49 am; edited 3 times in total
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crosseyedsheep
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gpi, You must be a mind reader, I've noticed this plant near where I work, It really stands out at thia time of year and I've never noticed it before, I had wondered what it was. I thought that it might be a flowering currant as the leaves look similar Rolling Eyes

Will this grow from cuttings?

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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes indeed, soft-wood cuttings in early summer in a cold frame or pot and plastic bag method.

But for yourself at this time of year you will have better luck with mature wood cuttings in a cold frame. It would even be worth chancing a few in open ground, you have nothing to lose.

Finally, it may be worth checking if any of the stems on your plant at work have bent to the ground and rooted. This is natural layering, which you can take advantage of. Bring a secateurs and small spade with you to work, sever the stem between the rooting and the plant, then use the spade to lift the new plant with as much root as possible.

Take it home, plant it up, then go to confessions. Laughing
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crosseyedsheep
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Finally, it may be worth checking if any of the stems on your plant at work have bent to the ground and rooted. This is natural layering, which you can take advantage of. Bring a secateurs and small spade with you to work, sever the stem between the rooting and the plant, then use the spade to lift the new plant with as much root as possible.


Mmmmmmmmm, If it's on the news during the week about someone digging up plants along the Longford bypass........ It'll be me Wink ........Or maybe I'll just chance a few cuttings Very Happy

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