Guelder Rose


Since childhood I’ve had a romanticised idea of this shrub. Blame Fairies of the Trees Poems and Pictures by Cicely Mary Barker originally published in 1940; my edition is undated and I don’t know whether it was new when I received it or if it was a hand-me-down. All I remember is that I was very fond of its pictures although I thought the verses were a bit soppy. 

Fast forward 60 years and we have two established in our garden, planted by us in 2010 when we removed the cat run and the year before the butternut tree came down. In fact the two we have are different varietals: Virburnum opulus var. opulus which is the European Guelder Rose and the North American native V. opulus var. americanum aka V. trilobum or High bush cranberry. See:

The European Guelder Rose appears to be a more vigorous, lower growing shrub while the native V. trilobum is taller but somewhat pushed out by the lower shrub. At least that’s how they are in our situation. Both produce red berries in summer but the birds take only the ones from the native shrub, often before they are half ripe, so the berries on the European shrub remain into the winter when the squirrels eat them. The scarlet, somewhat translucent berries look very attractive against the snow.