Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Viburnum edule
SPECIES: Viburnum edule
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Matthews, Robin F. 1992. Viburnum edule. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
Viburnum pauciflorum LaPylaie
Viburnum opulus var. edule Michx.
Viburnum acerifolium Bong.
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
few-flowered highbush cranberry
The currently accepted scientific name of highbush cranberry is Viburnum
edule (Michx.) Raf., in the family Caprifoliaceae [1,18,32,35,47].
There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms.
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
See OTHER STATUS
OTHER STATUS :
Highbush cranberry is considered rare (species or habitat vulnerable or
declining) in South Dakota . It has also been placed on Maine's
official Watch List .
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Viburnum edule
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Highbush cranberry is distributed throughout Alaska and across Canada to
Newfoundland. It occurs south through the New England and Great Lakes
States, and the Pacific Northwest [1,18,45,49,58]. Populations are also
found in Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES19 Aspen - birch
FRES23 Fir - spruce
FRES24 Hemlock - Sitka spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
AK CO CT ID IA ME MD MA MI MN
MT NH NY ND OR PA RI SD VT WA
WI WY AB BC LB MB NB NF NT NS
ON PE PQ SK YT
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
15 Black Hills Uplift
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K001 Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest
K004 Fir - hemlock forest
K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
K015 Western spruce - fir forest
K025 Alder - ash forest
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest
K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest
K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
SAF COVER TYPES :
1 Jack pine
5 Balsam fir
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce - tamarack
17 Pin cherry
18 Paper birch
107 White spruce
201 White spruce
202 White spruce - paper birch
203 Balsam poplar
204 Black spruce
205 Mountain hemlock
206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
218 Lodgepole pine
222 Black cottonwood - willow
224 Western hemlock
227 Western redcedar - western hemlock
228 Western redcedar
251 White spruce - aspen
252 Paper birch
253 Black spruce - white spruce
254 Black spruce - paper birch
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
Highbush cranberry may occur as a dominant or codominant understory
species in open or closed coniferous forests, primarily in white spruce
(Picea glauca) [12,19,50,57], but also in lodgepole pine (Pinus
contorta)  or western redcedar (Thuja plicata) habitats . It may
also occur as an understory dominant in open or closed deciduous forests
with quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), paper birch (Betula
papyrifera), or balsam poplar (P. balsamifera) [7,19,57].
Common understory associates include: willows (Salix spp.), alders
(Alnus spp.), raspberries (Rubus spp.), currants (Ribes spp.), prickly
rose (Rosa acicularis), lignonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), rusty
menziesia (Menziesia ferruginea), hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), bog
Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), one sided wintergreen (Pyrola
secunda), dogwoods (Cornus canadensis and C. stolonifera), buffaloberry
(Shepherdia canadensis), devil's club (Oplopanax horridus), queencup
beadlily (Clintonia uniflora), oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris),
twinflower (Linnaea borealis), twinberry honeysuckle (Lonicera
involucrata), fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), bearberry
(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), horsetails (Equisetum pratense, E. arvense,
and E. sylvanicum), bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis), and
various feather mosses (Hylocomium and Pleurozium spp.), sedges (Carex spp.),
lichens (Cladonia and Cladina spp.) and sphagnum mosses.
Published classifications listing highbush cranberry as a dominant
understory species in plant associations (pas), community types (cts),
or vegetation types (vts) are as follows:
AREA CLASSIFICATION AUTHORITY
wc AB forest cts Corns 1983
int AK gen. veg. cts Dyrness and others 1989
int AK postfire forest cts Foote 1983
YT vts Stanek 1980
BC: Salmon River Valley vts Harcombe and others 1983
AK gen. veg. pas Viereck & Dyrness 1980
SPECIES: Viburnum edule
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
Highbush cranberries are consumed by many small mammals and songbirds
[22,58]. Game birds including spruce grouse and ruffed grouse also eat
the berries [15,34]. Foliage is browsed by beaver, rabbit, and snowshoe
Highbush cranberry is of low to moderate importance as browse to
Roosevelt elk, Rocky Mountain elk, mountain goat, bighorn sheep,
black-tail deer, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and caribou [2,5]. The
foliage is also browsed by moose throughout the year [37,48].
Highbush cranberries are a major food of grizzly bears [3,23,40]. Black
bears consume highbush cranberries in late fall .
Viburnum foliage is low in palatability to livestock .
Pease  states that Viburnum foliage is highly unpalatable to snowshoe
hare, but others report it to be a preferred hare food in some areas .
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
Highbush cranberry's current annual stem and leaf growth collected in
July from Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, were analyzed for browse quality to
moose. In-vitro dry matter digestibility was 52.8 percent and protein
content was 10.3 percent. Concentrations of the following elements
were found :
Ca K Mg Na
3,284 10,798 2,112 106
Cu Fe Mn Zn
21.0 5.0 24.4 23.5
COVER VALUE :
Viburnum species are important components of forest-edge and hedgerow
habitats that provide cover for small mammals and birds .
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
The value of highbush cranberry for rehabilitative purposes has not been
well documented. It was studied for its use in oil sands reclamation,
but no results were detailed .
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
Highbush cranberries are edible and make excellent jams, jellies, and
sauces if picked before fully mature [29,32,58]. The berries were an
important food of Native Americans of the Bella Coola region of British
Columbia, where a single shrub may yield up to 100 berries . The
plant is cultivated for its brilliant red autumnal foliage .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Highbush cranberry is not considered to be a primary competitor to
conifers but is a component of major brush complexes that occur on
moist, productive sites on floodplains or under deciduous canopies. It
can compete significantly with natural or planted white spruce seedlings
in the Sub-Boreal Spruce and Boreal White and Black Spruce (Picea
mariana) Zones, where it is most abundant .
Highbush cranberry has shown varying responses to overstory removal.
Near Prince George, British Columbia, highbush cranberry in white
spruce-subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) forests had not become a
significant component of the vegetation 6 years after clearcutting,
although it was present on all sites prior to the harvest . In
Alberta, highbush cranberry had significantly lower cover in 6- to
12-year-old clearcut areas than in adjacent mature lodgepole pine
stands. In contrast, logging of a balsam poplar stand in Alaska caused
a dramatic increase in highbush cranberry density. It was one of the
dominant shrubs and reached 3.3 feet (1 m) in height within 4 years
. In general, frequency and cover are expected to remain constant
or decrease slightly in the first few years after overstory removal.
Vigor may increase slowly on favorable sites .
Highbush cranberry is a seed-banking species, and soil disturbance
resulting from mechanical site preparation favors germination of stored
seed. The disturbance may also provide favorable seedbeds for freshly
deposited seed. Plants damaged in site preparation sprout from root
stocks and stem bases .
Highbush cranberry increased less in a winter-logged balsam poplar stand
than in one that had been summer-logged. Higher soil disturbance on the
summer-logged site may have stimulated sprouting. However,
scarification did not enhance cover of highbush cranberry in clearcut
areas near Edson, Alberta . Highbush cranberry was also less
abundant on mechanically prepared sites than on unscalped sites in
interior Alaska. Frequency and cover of highbush cranberry 3 years
after clearcutting and shelterwood cutting of white spruce stands were
as follows :
scalped unscalped scalped unscalped
Frequency (%) 13.3 38.3 13.3 20.0
Cover (%) 1.8 5.2 1.7 3.2
Highbush cranberry can be propagated vegetatively by hardwood or
softwood cuttings, although softwood cuttings are far more successful at
producing roots. Softwood cuttings root sooner and more prolifically in
sand than in perlite. Rooting success greatly increases by treating
cuttings with IBA (Indole-3-butyric acid). Rhizome cuttings also
successfully produce roots when planted immediately after fall
Seeding may also be used for propagation of Viburnums. Seeds may be
broadcast sown on prepared seedbeds and mulched with sawdust or sown
with drills and mulched with straw. Seedlings may require shading,
depending on location. Fertile, moist soils which are neutral to
slightly acidic result in best germination .
Herbicides can be used to control highbush cranberry. Glyphosate
exhibits good control and causes moderately severe damage to the plant
[2,22]. Aerially spraying a young aspen-balsam poplar stand in June
resulted in 95 percent defoliation and heavy mortality of highbush
cranberry . Roundup also causes defoliation and moderate mortality
rates . Hexazinone does not appear to control highbush cranberry
Highbush cranberry is utilized heavily in tent caterpillar outbreaks
. Aphids, thrips, spider mites, and scale are also likely to occur
on Viburnums. A leaf spot (Ascochyta viburni) has been found on plants
along coastal British Columbia, and a rust (Puccinia linkii) has been
found on plants in northern British Columbia. Neither of these diseases
is considered serious .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Viburnum edule
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Highbush cranberry is a straggling to erect deciduous shrub that reaches
heights ranging from 2 to 12 feet (0.6-3.5 m) [22,32,58]. It has
several to many stems that may grow to 1.5 inches (4 cm) in diameter
. The plant has smooth gray bark and sharply toothed leaves that
are shallowly lobed. Milky-white flowers are borne in few-flowered
terminal cymes. The fruit is an orange to red drupe that contains one
seed [1,32,58]. The berries often overwinter on twigs. Highbush
cranberry roots in the organic layer  and is rhizomatous .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Sexual reproduction: Highbush cranberry begins to produce fruits at
approximately 5 years of age, and then produces large quantities nearly
every year thereafter. The one-seeded fruits are dispersed by the birds
and mammals that consume them [6,22]. Germination is normally delayed
until the second growing season after ripening. The seeds exhibit seed
coat and embryo dormancy that requires a two-stage stratification to be
broken. Most successful germination takes place when a warm period is
followed by cold stratification [21,22,59]. The radicle emerges and
begins growth during the warm period, and the cold period breaks the
dormancy of the plumule, which then grows when temperatures become
warmer. The time period of these stages is critical but has not been
worked out in detail. Clean, air-dried seeds can be stored up to 10
years without losing viability. Highbush cranberry is a seed-banking
Vegetative reproduction: Highbush cranberry can reproduce vegetatively
by natural layering and sprouting from damaged root stocks, stembases,
and stumps. The plant is rhizomatous, but there is no evidence of
lateral spread from the parent by rhizome or root suckers .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Highbush cranberry is found in moist woods or forests, along stream or
lake margins on gravel or rocky banks, and on swamp or bog margins
[22,49,58]. In British Columbia, the plant is found from sea level to
about 4,900 feet (1,500 m) , but in Colorado elevational range is
7,000 to 9,000 feet (2,100-2,700 m) . The southern extent of
highbush cranberry's distribution is determined by high temperatures and
low humidity. Its presence at northern latitudes indicates a high
tolerance to frost and the ability to grow in low soil and air
temperatures. In moist climates, highbush cranberry grows on submesic
to subhydric soils, but in drier climates it is restricted to subhygric
and wetter moisture regimes. Highbush cranberry commonly grows under a
deciduous or coniferous canopy but probably develops best under full
Highbush cranberry grows best on well-drained, alluvial soils
[6,9,12,62]. Soil textures include clay, silty clay, sandy clay loam,
and fine loam [9,33,62]. Soil types include Luvisols, Brunisols,
Humo-Ferric Podzols, Regosols, and Gleysols .
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Highbush cranberry is moderately shade tolerant  and is important
throughout all stages of forest succession [46,61]. In floodplain
succession, highbush cranberry is present from the pioneer willow
through seral balsam poplar stages. It remains important in mature and
climax white spruce and black spruce-white spruce types .
Highbush cranberry sprouts following fire and is an important component
of early, midseral, and climax postfire communities [13,61]. The
following frequencies and densities were found in white spruce stands in
Stage Years after fire Frequency(%) Density(stems/acre)
Newly burned 0-1 78 15,201 (37,562 st/ha)
Moss-herb 1-5 21 2,795 (6,906 st/ha)
Tall shrub-sapling 3-30 30 13,445 (33,222 st/ha)
Dense tree 26-45 36 3,713 (9,175 st/ha)
Hardwood 46-150 55 15,378 (38,000 st/ha)
Spruce 150-300+ 39 2,049 (5,062 st/ha)
Low successive peaks between the newly burned, tall shrub-sapling, and
hardwood stages may have been caused by stand differences or successful
establishment followed by opportunism .
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Highbush cranberry flowers from May to August, depending on location.
Fruits ripen from August to October and persist throughout the winter
[18,22,58]. Leaf flush begins in April or May, and senescence and
abscission take place earlier than on associated shrubs .
SPECIES: Viburnum edule
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Highbush cranberry sprouts from the stump, roots, or underground stems
following fire [13,61]. Sprouting may also occur at the base of
fire-killed aboveground stems [22,24]. Highbush cranberry roots are
buried approximately 8 inches (20 cm) below the soil surface, allowing
them to survive light fires that do not entirely remove the organic
layer . Rhizomes will also survive fires of this nature. Highbush
cranberry seeds are hard and have thick seed coats, making them somewhat
resistant to fire . Regeneration by seeds stored in the soil may
actually be favored by low-severity fires .
FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find Fire Regimes".
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex
survivor species; on-site surviving rhizomes
ground-stored residual colonizer; fire-activated seed on-site in soil
off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2
secondary colonizer; off-site seed carried to site after year 2
SPECIES: Viburnum edule
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
Fire top-kills highbush cranberry. Moderate- to high-severity fires
which remove soil organic layers may kill roots, underground stems, and
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Highbush cranberry sprouts within weeks following fire [19,22] and often
becomes one of the dominant postfire shrubs . Low-severity fires
stimulate germination of seeds stored in the soil [24,47]. Abundance of
the plant may be initially reduced after fire, but an increase over
prefire density may take place within the next 10 years [6,28].
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
The Research Project Summary Understory recovery after burning and reburning
quaking aspen stands in central Alberta provides information on prescribed
fire and postfire response of plant community species including highbush
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Prescribed fires of low-severity and short duration are recommended for
the management of highbush cranberry. Fires of this type favor the
germination of buried seeds and sprouting of vegetative structures
SPECIES: Viburnum edule
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