WHITE-FLOWERED SHRUBS AT OUR ROADSIDES

It is impossible not to notice shrubs with white flowers growing alongside Deering’s roads in the spring.

I know of three species that are more or less common, all of which are native to Eastern North America, extending from New Brunswick to  the Gulf states.

The most common, and conspicuous, of Deering’s flowering roadside shrubs is hobblebush, Viburnum lantanoides.

Hobblebush inhabits the understory of cool forests. It produces flat-topped clusters of white fowers in two forms: 1) an outer ring of 3/4-inch wide, showy white flowers that are sterile, but may attract pollinators; and 2) an inner cluster of small greenish, fertile flowers. This shrub is a host plant for the caterpillars of the spring azure butterfly (Celastrina ladon). [from Native Plant Trust Go Botany]. Clusters of red berries form late in the summer.

Hobblebush grows densely in the understory. If you have ever tried to ‘bushwhack’ through a patch, you would understand and appreciate the aptness of its name, hobblebush.

Chokeberry and serviceberry are easily distinguished from hobblebush at 40 mph, but you will have to slow — to a stop — and get out of your vehicle to determine which of these the small-flowered , spindly-trunked bush is.

Eastern shadbush, Amelanchier canadensis,  is a 6-20 foot (2-6.5m) tall tree that produces white flowers in March and sweet, edible berries in June (around the same time as the annual shad run in New England). The smooth, light grayish-brown bark has vertical dark stripes.

With a graceful, arching growth form that resembles alder, as well as reddish fall color to the leaves and edible fruits, this species makes a pleasant backdrop planting for the garden. [from Native Plant Trust Go Botany].

Black chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa, is also a small tree, similar in stature to eastern shadbush and, like shadbush, is a member of the rose family.

I have only seen black chokeberry  in the wetlands of  Deering’s Longwood Road. I am not 100% certain that this is A. melanocarpa because I have not yet seen its fruit.

 

 

 

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