Viburnum Utile (Service Viburnum)
Viburnum is a genus of about 150–175 species of shrubs or (in a few species) small trees in the moschatel family, Adoxaceae. Its current classification is based on molecular phylogeny. It was previously included in the family Caprifoliaceae.
The member species are native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere, with a few species extending into tropical montane regions in South America, Russia, and southeast Asia. In Africa, the genus is confined to the Atlas Mountains. In Ukraine, it is seen as a national symbol.
The generic name originated in Latin, where it referred to V. lantana.
The leaves are opposite, simple, and entire, toothed or lobed; cool temperate species are deciduous, while most of the warm temperate species are evergreen. Some species are densely hairy on the shoots and leaves, with star-shaped hairs.
The flowers are produced in corymbs 5–15 cm across, each flower white to cream or pink, small, 3–5 mm across, with five petals, strongly fragrant in some species. The gynoecium has three connate carpels with the nectary on top of the gynoecium. Some species also have a fringe of large, showy sterile flowers round the perimeter of the corymb to act as a pollinator target.
The fruit is a spherical, oval, or somewhat flattened drupe, red to purple, blue, or black, and containing a single seed; some are edible for humans, but many others are mildly poisonous. The leaves are eaten by the larvae of many Lepidoptera species.
V. utile is rarely seen in the trade, probably due to its open habit and small leaves and is most probably considered a collectors item.
However, it has contributed immensely to the Viburnum world as a breeding parent. Offspring include V. x burkwoodii and its cutlivars, V. x 'Chesapeake', V. x 'Eskimo', V. x 'Conoy (aka V. x burkwoodii 'Conoy') and V. pragense. Service viburnum grows 4-6' high and wide.
Foliage is evergreen, glossy dark green with a silvery underside and sometimes inrolled. Pink buds open to slightly fragrant waxy flowers produced in abundance. Fruit is a ¼" drupe and blue-black.
Genetic characteristics that make V. utile an important breeding parent are the glossy leaves, heat tolerance, tolerance to high ph soils and profuse flowering. Native to central China.