highbush cranberry

Viburnum opulus var. americanum

closeup image of highbush cranberry berries
Bright red berries on branches with dark green leaves. These are highbush cranberries and it is October in Wisconsin.


The highbush cranberry is not a cranberry though its fruit looks and tastes like cranberries. It is part of the honeysuckle family, whereas the true (or low bush) cranberry is a member of the heather family.

Highbush cranberry grows in hardiness zones 2-7, is 8-15 feet tall and 8-10 feet wide. It tolerates frost and likes sun or semi-shade. This bush is successful in most soil types but does best in well-drained, moist soil that is rich and contains loam.

Use and Management:

This bush is a magnet for wildlife. It provides food for deer and birds. It can be used as a hedge by spacing plants 2-3 feet apart.

Additional Information:

highbush cranberry

USDA Symbol: Common Name: Scientific Name:
VIOPA2 American cranberrybush Viburnum opulus

ITIS TSN: 530811

Category: Dicot


Kingdom: Plantae


Super Division: Spermatophyta

Division: Magnoliophyta


Class: Magnoliopsida

SubClass: Asteridae

Order: Dipsacales

Family: Caprifoliaceae


Natural Community:

Curtis Community:

Coefficient of Conservation: 6

Duration: Growth Habit: Native Status:
Perennial Shrub, Tree L48(N)CAN(N)SPM(N)

Active Growth Period: Spring and Summer

After Harvest Regrowth Rate:

Bloat: None

Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio: High

Coppice Potential: No

Conspicuous Fall Color: Yes

Fire Resistant: No

Flower Color: White

Conspicuous Flower: Yes

Foliage Color: Green

Foliage Light Porosity Summer: Moderate

Foliage Porosity Winter: Porous

Foliage Texture: Coarse

Fruit/Seed Color: Red

Fruit/Seed Conspicuous: Yes

Growth Form: Multiple Stem

Growth Rate: Slow

Height at Base Age (Max): 6

Height at Maturity: 6

Known Alelopath: No

Leaf Retention: No

Lifespan: Long

Low Growing Grass: No

Re-sproutability: No

Shape and Orientation: Erect

Toxicity: None

Height (min):

Height (max):

Root Type:

Leaf Type:

Leaf Arrangement:

Leaf Shape:

Leaf Margin:

Vein Pattern:

Bloom Period: Commercial Availability: Fruit/Seed Abundance:
Mid Spring Routinely Available High
Fruit/Seed Period Begin: Fruit/Seed Period End: Fruit/Seed Persistence:
Summer Fall Yes
Propogated by Bare Root: Propogated by Bulbs: Propogated by Container:
Yes No Yes
Propogated by Corms: Propogated by Cuttings: Propogated by Seed:
No Yes No
Propogated by Sod: Propogated by Sprigs: Propogated by Tubers:
No No No
Seeds per Pound: Seed Spread Rate: Seedling Vigor:
13000 None Low
Small Grain: Vegetative Spread Rate: Propagation Treatment:
No Slow
Days to Stratify: Direct Sowing Time:


USDA Plants Database
Wisconsin Virtual Flora Database 
Maine Cooperative Extension
Native Plant Network Propagation Protocol Database
USFS Fire Effects Information System Database