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Chinese Snowball Tree Viburnum macrocephalum

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
vih-BUR-num mak-roh-SEF-uh-lum
Description

Chinese snowball viburnum is a popular deciduous flowering shrub in the Viburnaceae family. It is native to mainland China and grows up to 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide with a rounded vase-shaped form. The flowers are the largest of the snowball viburnums. It is a hardy shrub from zones 6 through 9.

It prefers moist acidic well-drained soils, tolerant of pruning, and is adaptable to other locations.

This shrub produces profuse dome-shaped, rounded, infertile flowers in the spring and some areas produce a flush bloom in the fall. The flowers emerge chartreuse then quickly turn to white and are sterile with no fragrance. The leaves are semi-evergreen in the southernmost growing zones, opposite and pubescent with serrate margins. Since the blooms are sterile, there is no fruit production.

A variety of Viburnum macrocephalum var. keteleeri is found in the wild, and it has both sterile and fertile florets, so sometimes fruits are seen on this plant.

Use this plant as a specimen, in groups, for borders, in foundation plantings, or for informal hedges. It has good disease resistance.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Spring, possibly Fall       Foliage:  Spring, Summer, and Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • rounded, vase-shaped deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub
  • dark green, opposite, pubescent leave with serrate margins
  • pubescent stems
  • dome-shaped, rounded chartreuse blooms that quickly turn white
  • infertile, no fruit production

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No serious problems. 

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Juniper Level Botanic Gardens
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • f. keteleeri
f. keteleeri
Tags:
#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#specimen#white flowers#shrub#semi-evergreen#green flowers#deciduous shrub#spring flowers#hedges#adaptable#foundation planting#sterile#border planting#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • f. keteleeri
f. keteleeri
Tags:
#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#specimen#white flowers#shrub#semi-evergreen#green flowers#deciduous shrub#spring flowers#hedges#adaptable#foundation planting#sterile#border planting#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Viburnum
    Species:
    macrocephalum
    Family:
    Viburnaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China
    Wildlife Value:
    Mildly resistant to damage by deer. Attracts butterflies.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Rounded
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Apple green flowers mature to 3 to 8 in. white inflorescences in rounded cymes. Each floret is 1.25 inches wide and sterile. They bloom in the spring, and they may have a flush bloom in the fall in some locations.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are 2-4 inches long and 1.5-2-inch-wide with an opposite arrangement and are egg-shaped dark green leaves with serrate margins. The undersides of the leaf have star-like hairs.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The stems are pubescent.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Diseases