Viburnum japonicum (Thunb.) Spreng.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

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'Viburnum japonicum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2024-05-25.


  • Cornus japonicus Thunb.
  • V. macrophyllum Bl.


(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
With an unbroken margin.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Flower-bearing part of a plant; arrangement of flowers on the floral axis.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
(botanical) All parts present and functional. Usually referring to both androecium and gynoecium of a flower.
Inflorescence in which pedicels all arise from same point on peduncle. May be flat-topped (as in e.g. Umbelliferae) to spherical (as in e.g. Araliaceae). umbellate In form of umbel.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Viburnum japonicum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2024-05-25.

A sturdy, evergreen bush up to 6 ft high in this country, with thick, glabrous young shoots. Leaves leathery, usually ovate (sometimes very broadly so), but also roundish, oval or obovate, 3 to 6 in. long, half to nearly as much wide, abruptly pointed or with a short, slender apex, the base entire and rounded or tapering, the terminal part remotely and shallowly toothed or merely wavy; both surfaces quite glabrous, the upper one dark glossy green, the lower one paler but with innumerable tiny dark dots; stalk 12 to 114 in. long. Flowers uniformly perfect, 38 in. wide, white, very fragrant, produced in rounded short-stalked, often seven-rayed cymes 3 to 412 in. across. Fruits round-oval, 13 in. long, red.

Native of Japan; probably first introduced by Maries in 1879. Richard Oldham, who collected it in Nagasaki in 1862, describes it as ‘a small tree on the hills,’ but it does not make more than a sturdy bush with us. It appears to be quite hardy at Kew, but grows slowly in the open, and is no doubt happier in a warmer climate. On a wall it makes a pleasing and striking evergreen. This species has been much confused in gardens with V. odoratissimum, but it may be distinguished in the following respects: The young wood is not so warted as in V. odoratissimum; the secondary veins run out to the margin of the leaf; the inflorescence is rounded and umbel-like rather than paniculate.


Synonyms / alternative names
'Variegatum' inval.

A clone with variably variegated foliage, evidently as an effect of transposable genetic elements (‘jumping genes’) expressing irregularly; Dirr aptly likens it to marble cake. He observed that it easily reverts to green and Hatch (2018–2020) recommends propagating it from the most variegated shoots to preserve this not unattractive feature. Although it is grown in (perhaps only a few) American gardens as ‘Variegatum’ and referred to as such (or ‘Variegata’) by Hatch and Dirr, this name is almost certainly invalid under the code of nomenclature for cultivated plants. Hatch refers to the Japanese publication on variegated plants by Hirose and Yokoi where it features under the descriptor “yellow splashed” and although we have not been able to verify this reference (JMG November 2023) we adopt this here.

A specimen seen at the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden, Seattle in June 2023 was rather handsome and well-variegated throughout (JMG pers. obs.).