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Snowball Bush

Scientific Name: Viburnum opulus
Plant Family: Adoxaceae

Snowball bush or guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) is a shrubby tree that is native to woodland areas of Europe across to western Asia. It is a member of the Adoxaceae and thus a relative of our native elderberry. It is widely grown as an ornamental plant for its large clusters of white flowers and attractive red berries. However, our cultivar at MEMBG is called "roseum" with sterile flowers, and thus does not produce fruit. The leaves are three-lobed, resembling those of maples, and are shed in winter. The bark of snowball bush contains a coumarin called scopoletin that has a sedative affect. A tea made from the bark is used to relieve all types of spasms including asthma and menstrual cramps, giving rise to an alternative common name of cramp bark. Snowball bush is one of the national symbols of Ukraine where it is called kalyna, The species is widely referenced in Ukrainian folklore, and often depicted in embroidery on towels and shirts. The red berries are said to symbolize blood and undying family roots.