Thursday, May 12, 2011
Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium)
I love my blackhaw tree. Blackhaws bloom at the same time Dogwoods do but they get kind of overlooked next to these showy neighbors. My Blackhaw came up uninvited right behind my house where I can see it from my kitchen window. This is one uninvited guest that is welcome to stay. I was fascinated by this newcomer that I did not recognize at first.
With very opposite branches and shiny leaves that are reddish bronze in color, I knew it had to be something special and so I let it grow until I figured out what it was.
I was rewarded the next year when in May it gifted me with a cluster of beautiful white flowers which turned into green, elliptical fruit which changed from a bright green to blue/black color in late fall. After most of the autumn color is gone from the other trees this little darling rewarded me with crimson and burgundy leaves.
I have since found out that my blackhaw has a large variety of common names such as cramp bark, sheepberry, shonny, sloe, sloe-leaved viburnum, stagbush, sweethaw, American sloe, king's crown, sheep berry, snowball, tree stagbush.
The name cramp bark must have derived from this little trees reputation for comforting those who suffer from menstrual cramps as it is reputed to ease such discomfort as well as the symptoms of menopause. Was it fate, luck or divine providence that this medicinal tree landed in my back yard just as I began my changing years?
Blackhaw seems to definately be a friend of womenkind and has also been used for false labor pains and threatened miscarriage. In addition, it has been used to lower blood pressure in hypertension and as an anti-spasmodic herb for the treatment of asthma.
I look forward to learning more about this beautiful understory tree and will post more information as it is gleamed.