Southern Arrow-Wood
Viburnum dentatum
Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae)

Description: This shrub is 5-15' tall, sending up multiple woody shoots from the base that branch upward and arch outward. The branches toward the center of each shrub tend to be straight. Older shoots at the base of the shrub have gray wrinkled bark, while branches of the basal shoots have bark that is gray and more smooth. Twigs are pale brown to reddish brown, smooth, and hairless with scattered lenticels, while young stems are light green to green, angular or terete, and usually pubescent. Pairs of opposite leaves occur along the twigs and young stems. The leaves are 2-4" long and 1-3" across; they are cordate-ovate to nearly oval and coarsely dentate with 7-18 pairs of teeth along their margins. The upper leaf surface is yellowish green to dark green and glabrous to sparsely covered with short appressed hairs. The lower leaf surface is pale green with prominent veins and variably hairy. The typical variety of Southern Arrow-Wood has tufts of hair at the junctions of the lateral veins with the central vein on the lower surface of each leaf, while var. deamii has hairs distributed across the entire lower surface of each leaf. These hairs are short, white, slightly appressed, and either simple or stellate. The petioles are -1" long, light green, and usually pubescent. At the petiole bases, there are no pairs of stipules.

Flat-headed panicles of flowers about 2-4" across are produced from the tips of leafy stems or short spur-stems. The branching stalks of each panicle are light green to yellowish green and usually pubescent. Individual flowers are about " across, consisting of a white corolla with 5 spreading lobes, a very short calyx with 5 teeth, 5 stamens, and a pistil with a single style. The stamens are strongly exerted from the corolla. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer for about 3 weeks. In each panicle, the flowers come into bloom at about the same time. The floral scent is malodorous. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by small drupes about " across that are globoid to ovoid-globoid in shape and blue-black at maturity. Each drupe contains a single stone (seed with a hard coat) that is ovoid in shape, somewhat flattened, and grooved along one side. The woody root system is shallow and branching, sometimes producing underground runners that form clonal offsets.

Cultivation: The preference is full or partial sun, moist to mesic conditions, and soil containing loam, silt, sand, or rocky material. This shrub has relatively few problems with disease organisms and it is easy to cultivate.

Range & Habitat: Southern Arrow-Wood is native to southern Illinois, where it is rare in natural areas. In other areas of the state, it may be encountered as an escape from cultivation. Habitats include thinly wooded slopes, openings in bottomland woodlands, woodland borders, streambanks, and fence rows. This shrub is cultivated throughout the state as an ornamental landscape plant, although it rarely seems to escape. However, it may be confused with the more common Viburnum recognitum (Smooth Arrow-Wood), which is sometimes regarded as a variety of Southern Arrow-Wood. Occasional disturbance is beneficial if it reduces competition from canopy trees.

Faunal Associations: The unpleasantly scented flowers attract Halictid bees, Andrenid bees, flies, and beetles. Both nectar and pollen are available as floral rewards. Fly floral visitors include Syrphid flies, dance flies (Empis spp., Rhamphomyia spp.), Tachinid flies, Chloropid flies, and others. Beetle floral visitors include long-horned beetles (Cerambycidae), leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae), Dermestid beetles, tumbling flower beetles (Mordellidae), Scarab beetles, and others. To a lesser extent, bumblebees, other long-tongued bees, butterflies, and skippers may visit the flowers for nectar. Caterpillars of the butterfly Celastrina argiolus (Spring/Summer Azure) feed destructively on the flowers and buds of Viburnum spp., while some moth caterpillars feed primarily on the foliage of these shrubs. The latter include such species as Agriopodes fallax (The Green Marvel), Calledapteryx dryopterata (Brown Scoopwing), Coleophora viburniella, Hyparpux aurora (Pink Prominent), Metaxaglaea inulta (Unsated Sallow), Schizura badia (Chestnut Schizura), and Zale horrida (Horrid Zale). Other insect feeders include Pyrrhalta viburni (Viburnum Leaf Beetle); wood-boring larvae of the long-horned beetle Oberea schaumi; the plant bugs Lygidea viburni and Lygocoris viburni; and the aphids Aphis viburniphila, Ceruraphis viburnicola, and Nearctaphis bakeri.

The fruits of Southern Arrow-Wood and other Viburnum spp. are consumed to some extent by a variety of upland gamebirds and songbirds, including the Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, Pileated Woodpecker, Wild Turkey, Blue-Headed Vireo, and Swainson's Thrush (see the Bird Table for a more complete listing of these species). Mammals eat the fruit to a more limited extent; they include the Black Bear, Red Fox, Striped Skunk, Opossum, Fox Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, and White-Footed Mouse. White-Tailed Deer have been known to browse on the twigs and foliage of these shrubs, but it is not preferred as a source of food. Near bodies of water, the beaver occasionally feeds on the bark and branches and also uses them in the construction of its lodges and dams. The Indigo Bunting, Prairie Warbler, White-Eyed Vireo, and other songbirds sometimes construct nests in the branches of Viburnum spp.

Photographic Location: Along a fence row near the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois. The photographed shrub is the more hairy variety of Southern Arrow-Wood, Viburnum dentatum deamii.

Southern Arrow-Wood is very similar in appearance to Smooth Arrow-Wood (Viburnum recognitum), except its leaf undersides are more hairy and they are never whitened. Another species, Viburnum molle (Soft-Leaved Arrow-Wood), differs from Southern Arrow-Wood by having leaves that are more cordate in shape and berries that are more narrowly ovoid in shape. The leaves of Soft-Leaved Arrow-Wood also tend to have more pairs of teeth along their margins (often exceeding 20 pairs per leaf). Another similar species, Viburnum rafinesquianum (Downy Arrow-Wood), is a smaller shrub (up to 6' tall) with smaller leaves (up to 3" in length). The leaves of Downy Arrow-Wood also tend to have fewer pairs of teeth along their margins (less than 10 pairs per leaf) than those of Southern Arrow-Wood. Within the Viburnum genus, species in the Arrow-Wood group have leaves with coarse dentate teeth and their flowers are malodorous. In contrast, species in the Viburnum group have leaves with fine teeth and their flowers are sweetly scented.