Viburnum nudum ‘Winterthur’, Smooth Witherod

Virburnum nudum flowers

Spring and summer bring many people to Secrest, and for good reason. People love flowers. Even gardeners who appreciate plants when not in bloom appreciate flowers. There are plants in the collection that make everyone stop and ask, ‘Wow, what is it?” One such plant is Viburnum nudum, smooth withered viburnum.

Viburnum nudum fruitViburnum nudum ‘Winterthur’ is native to the eastern United States and is a 2024 Secrest Select shrub. The creamy white flowers attract many pollinators. Yet, unlike some viburnum species which have extremely fragrant blooms, Viburnum nudum does not have a pleasing fragrance to its flowers. Consider it more a subtle odor than a fragrance. However, this should not discourage gardeners from planting it.

The summer foliage is very clean, with little to no disease issues, but fall is when this plant shines. Michael Dirr states that the glossy green summer foliage becomes “maddeningly schizophrenic from plant to plant: green, yellow, red, purple, and combinations” (Viburnums. 2007. Pg. 123). More striking, however, is the fruit.

Beginning in late September the fruit begins the magical transition from green to pink. Once pink, one by one each drupe will mature to a dark blue purple. The time of transition is truly incredible and is the ‘wow’ factor about this plant. In addition, the fruit persist into winter and add interest to the winter landscape, providing a welcome snack for the birds.

As with most viburnums, fruit set is highest when multiple plants of the same species are planted in proximity. Plant two selections like Brandywine™ (‘Bulk’) and ‘Winterthur’ for the best fruit set. ‘Winterthur’ is easily grown in average, moist, or wet acidic soils and can be planted in sun to part shade. It can be used as a specimen, mass, or hedge. The selection, ‘Winterthur’ was selected by Winterthur Museum, Gardens & Library for its compact nature.

M. Dirr. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Sixth Edition. 2007. Stipes.
Missouri Botanical Garden, Plant Finder.
---Paul Snyder, Operations Manager