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Wrinkled Viburnum

Viburnum rhytidophyllum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Adoxaceae (Moschatel)
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
4 metres tall
Gardens, parks, towns, wasteland.

White, 5 petals
The blossoms of Wrinkled Viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum) exhibit a delicate and understated charm. The flowers of Wrinkled Viburnum are relatively petite, typically measuring about 5-10 millimetres (0.2-0.4 inches) in diameter. They form flat-topped or slightly rounded clusters, referred to as cymes. The petals of Wrinkled Viburnum's flowers are creamy white, often described as ivory or pale yellow. This gentle, subdued colour imparts a touch of elegance to the garden. Each blossom typically comprises five petals, arranged radially, resulting in a star-like appearance when viewed from above. Wrinkled Viburnum generally flowers in late spring to early summer, contingent on the local climate. These blossoms persist for several weeks, serving as an attractive backdrop for pollinators and a source of nectar for bees and butterflies. In summary, the flowers of Wrinkled Viburnum may be diminutive in size, but their creamy white hue, subtle fragrance, and attractive arrangement make them a notable feature of this versatile and decorative shrub in the UK.
The fruit of Wrinkled Viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum) is as intriguing as its blossoms. The fruit of the Wrinkled Viburnum, commonly referred to as drupes, are small and roughly spherical, typically measuring about 6-8 millimeters (0.2-0.3 inches) in diameter. These drupes start out green and gradually transform into shades of pink and red as they ripen. As summer progresses, the green drupes mature into a striking pink hue. Eventually, they deepen in colour to a rich, dark red or purplish-black when fully ripe. This transformation adds a delightful pop of colour to the shrub. The skin of the drupes is smooth and glossy, with a somewhat translucent appearance when they reach their mature, darker shades. When touched, they have a soft and fleshy texture. Each drupe contains a single large seed at its core, encased within the juicy flesh. These seeds are typically oval or oblong in shape. Wrinkled Viburnum often produces an abundant crop of drupes, which can be quite ornamental and attract wildlife to the garden. The ripe fruit of Wrinkled Viburnum is known to be attractive to birds, particularly in the fall. Birds are drawn to the shrub to feed on the fruit, making it a valuable addition to wildlife-friendly landscapes.In conclusion, the fruit of Wrinkled Viburnum undergoes a captivating transformation in both colour and texture, evolving from green to pink and ultimately to a deep red or purplish-black. Its drupes, with a single large seed inside, are not only aesthetically pleasing but also provide a food source for birds and other wildlife in the UK garden.
The leaves of Wrinkled Viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum) are notable for their distinctive appearance and hardy nature. The leaves of Wrinkled Viburnum are large and oblong-elliptical, typically measuring around 10-20 centimetres (4-8 inches) in length. They possess a prominent, pronounced midrib running through the centre and have a slightly wrinkled or corrugated texture, giving the shrub its common name. The leaves are dark green, maintaining their rich colour throughout the growing season. This deep green hue contrasts beautifully with the creamy white blossoms and the colourful fruit. One of the most distinctive features of the leaves is their leathery texture. They are tough and durable, making them resistant to damage from environmental stressors. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs along the branches, creating a dense and lush foliage cover. Wrinkled Viburnum is an evergreen shrub, which means it retains its leaves throughout the year, even during the winter months. This feature adds to its year-round ornamental appeal and provides structure to the garden during the colder seasons. The margins of the leaves are serrated or toothed, adding a subtle but attractive detail to the leaf edges.Overall, the leaves of Wrinkled Viburnum are characterized by their large size, deep green colour, leathery texture, and slightly corrugated appearance. These features make them a valuable and visually appealing component of this versatile shrub in the UK landscape.
The blossoms of Wrinkled Viburnum emit a pleasing, mild fragrance that can be characterised as sweet and delicate. While not overpowering, this scent contributes to the overall allure of the plant when it is in full bloom.
Other Names:
Leatherleaf viburnum.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information

Overview of Wrinkled Viburnum (a.k.a. Leatherleaf Viburnum)

Viburnum rhytidophyllum, commonly known as leatherleaf viburnum, is a species of evergreen shrub native to China. It is a popular ornamental plant in the United Kingdom and other temperate regions due to its attractive, glossy, dark green leaves that have a distinctive wrinkled or "leathery" texture, hence its name. This hardy shrub produces clusters of small, fragrant white flowers in spring, followed by red berries in the autumn, which can provide ornamental interest and food for wildlife. Leatherleaf viburnum is valued for its year-round foliage and adaptability to various soil types and growing conditions, making it a versatile choice for garden landscaping in the UK.


Viburnum Rhytidophyllum: The Evergreen Elegance of Leatherleaf Viburnum


When it comes to versatile and visually appealing garden shrubs in the United Kingdom, Viburnum rhytidophyllum, or leatherleaf viburnum, stands out as a popular choice. Its lush, glossy foliage, fragrant blossoms, and year-round appeal make it a garden favorite for enthusiasts and landscapers alike. In this blog, we'll delve into the charming world of Viburnum rhytidophyllum, exploring its characteristics, care requirements, and why it's a perfect addition to any British garden.

Aesthetic Appeal

One of the key features that make Viburnum rhytidophyllum a standout shrub is its distinctive foliage. The leaves are large, dark green, and have a uniquely wrinkled or "leathery" texture, giving this plant its common name. These evergreen leaves not only provide year-round visual interest but also create an excellent backdrop for other garden plants.

Blooms and Berries

In the spring, leatherleaf viburnum graces your garden with clusters of small, creamy-white, fragrant flowers. These blooms are not only pleasing to the eye but also attract pollinators, making them a valuable addition to your garden's ecosystem.

As summer transitions into autumn, the shrub bears bright red berries that persist well into the winter months. These berries not only add a pop of color to your garden but also serve as a food source for birds, enhancing biodiversity.


Viburnum rhytidophyllum is well-suited to the UK's temperate climate. It is a hardy shrub that can thrive in a variety of soil types and growing conditions. This adaptability makes it an excellent choice for gardens throughout the country, from the south's mild climate to the north's colder regions.

Planting and Care

Planting leatherleaf viburnum is relatively straightforward. Choose a location with well-draining soil and partial to full sunlight for optimal growth. While it can tolerate a range of soil types, ensuring good drainage is essential.

Regular pruning can help maintain the shrub's shape and size. It's best to prune Viburnum rhytidophyllum in late spring or early summer after the flowers have faded. This will allow the plant to develop new growth for the following season.

Pest and Disease Resistance

One of the advantages of growing Viburnum rhytidophyllum in your garden is its resistance to many common pests and diseases. This makes maintenance relatively hassle-free, allowing you to enjoy its beauty without the constant worry of pest infestations or diseases.


Viburnum rhytidophyllum, or leatherleaf viburnum, is a remarkable evergreen shrub that adds elegance and year-round interest to British gardens. With its unique leathery leaves, fragrant blossoms, and bird-attracting berries, it's a versatile and visually appealing choice for gardeners across the United Kingdom. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just starting to cultivate your green thumb, consider adding this hardy and attractive shrub to your outdoor space for a touch of enduring beauty.

Maintenance Tips

  1. Soil Preparation: Before planting Viburnum rhytidophyllum, it's a good practice to prepare the soil. Incorporate organic matter like compost to improve soil fertility and drainage. This will provide a healthy foundation for your shrub's growth.

  2. Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Use organic mulch, like wood chips or bark, and replenish it as needed.

  3. Watering: While leatherleaf viburnum is relatively drought-tolerant once established, regular watering during dry spells is essential, especially in the first few years after planting. Deep, infrequent watering is preferable to shallow, frequent watering to encourage the development of a robust root system.

  4. Fertilization: Feed your Viburnum rhytidophyllum with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring. Be cautious not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to excessive growth at the expense of overall plant health.

  5. Pruning: Pruning is essential for maintaining the shrub's shape and health. Remove dead or diseased branches, as well as any crossing or crowded growth. Aim to create an open and well-ventilated canopy.

  6. Pest Vigilance: While leatherleaf viburnum is generally resistant to pests and diseases, it's still a good practice to inspect your plant regularly for any signs of trouble. Keep an eye out for aphids, scale insects, or powdery mildew, and address any issues promptly if they arise.

  7. Support in Harsh Winters: In particularly harsh winters, when heavy snow or ice accumulates on the branches, consider gently shaking or brushing off the excess weight to prevent damage to the shrub's structure.

Garden Design Ideas

  1. Hedge or Privacy Screen: Viburnum rhytidophyllum's dense foliage and evergreen nature make it an excellent choice for creating hedges or privacy screens in your garden. Plant them in a row for a natural and attractive barrier.

  2. Mixed Borders: Incorporate leatherleaf viburnum into mixed borders with other plants that complement its colour and form. Pair it with flowering perennials or smaller deciduous shrubs to create dynamic garden beds.

  3. Woodland Gardens: If you have a shaded or woodland area in your garden, consider adding Viburnum rhytidophyllum as an understory plant. Its tolerance for partial shade makes it a valuable addition to such environments.

  4. Container Gardening: While it's often grown in the ground, leatherleaf viburnum can also thrive in large containers. This allows you to enjoy its beauty on patios, balconies, or any outdoor space with limited ground area.


Incorporating Viburnum rhytidophyllum into your UK garden not only adds aesthetic value but also enhances the ecological diversity of your outdoor space. With its striking appearance, hardiness, and low-maintenance requirements, this evergreen shrub is an excellent choice for both experienced gardeners and newcomers looking to create a visually appealing and ecologically friendly garden in the United Kingdom. Explore the many ways you can integrate this charming shrub into your garden design, and enjoy its enduring beauty for years to come.

Conservation of Viburnum rhytidophyllum: Preserving a Valuable Garden Species

Viburnum rhytidophyllum, commonly known as leatherleaf viburnum, may not be a species at risk of extinction in the wild, but it's still essential to consider its conservation within our cultivated landscapes. This evergreen shrub offers aesthetic, ecological, and even cultural value, making it deserving of our attention and care.

Here are some key aspects to consider when it comes to the conservation of Viburnum rhytidophyllum:

  1. Maintaining Biodiversity: Leatherleaf viburnum, like many garden plants, provides essential habitat and sustenance for various wildlife species. Its fragrant flowers attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, and its berries are a valuable food source for birds. By planting and preserving this shrub, we contribute to the overall biodiversity of our gardens.

  2. Cultivar Selection: When choosing leatherleaf viburnum cultivars for our gardens, it's crucial to select native or non-invasive varieties. Some cultivars may exhibit characteristics that make them more appealing for ornamental purposes but could potentially become invasive in certain regions. By opting for responsible choices, we can prevent the unintended spread of non-native plants.

  3. Conservation through Cultivation: In some cases, the cultivation of Viburnum rhytidophyllum in gardens can serve as a form of ex-situ conservation. By maintaining healthy populations of this species in gardens, we provide a safeguard against any potential threats or disease outbreaks that could impact wild populations in the future.

  4. Education and Awareness: Raising awareness about the importance of conserving garden plants like leatherleaf viburnum is crucial. Educate fellow gardeners, landscapers, and community members about the benefits of native or non-invasive species and the role they play in supporting local ecosystems.

  5. Habitat Enhancement: Consider planting leatherleaf viburnum in areas where it can naturally thrive, such as in woodland gardens or under existing trees. Enhancing its habitat by providing suitable companions and soil conditions can help it flourish while attracting and supporting local wildlife.

  6. Responsible Propagation: If you're a gardener with a passion for propagating plants, consider responsible propagation of Viburnum rhytidophyllum. Ensure that you source your plant material ethically, avoid digging up wild specimens, and adhere to local regulations regarding plant propagation.

  7. Reporting Invasive Species: While Viburnum rhytidophyllum itself is not considered invasive, some related Viburnum species can become problematic in certain regions. If you notice invasive Viburnum species in your area, report them to local authorities or conservation organizations to help control their spread.

  8. Conservation Partnerships: Collaborate with local conservation organizations and community groups dedicated to preserving native flora. These partnerships can provide resources, expertise, and support for conservation efforts involving leatherleaf viburnum and other native plants.

In conclusion, while Viburnum rhytidophyllum may not be a threatened species in the wild, its conservation within our cultivated landscapes is a responsibility that gardeners, horticulturists, and conservationists should take seriously. By selecting native or non-invasive cultivars, supporting biodiversity, and educating others about the importance of responsible gardening practices, we can contribute to the long-term health and vitality of this valuable garden species.

More Information

Viburnum rhytidophyllum, or leatherleaf viburnum, has a rich history and cultural significance that extends beyond its role as a garden shrub. Its story intertwines with various cultures, gardening traditions, and even folklore, highlighting its enduring appeal.

Historical Roots

  1. Chinese Origins: Leatherleaf viburnum is native to China, where it has been cultivated and appreciated for centuries. In Chinese culture, certain Viburnum species hold symbolic value, often associated with beauty, resilience, and the changing seasons.

  2. Introduction to Western Gardens: The plant was introduced to Western horticulture in the 19th century, thanks to plant collectors and explorers who brought back specimens from their travels in Asia. Its distinctive wrinkled leaves and attractive foliage quickly caught the attention of botanists and garden enthusiasts.

Cultural Significance

  1. Garden Aesthetics: Viburnum rhytidophyllum has played a significant role in shaping the aesthetics of gardens, especially in temperate regions like the United Kingdom. Its evergreen nature and glossy, leathery leaves make it a valuable addition to gardens year-round, providing structure and form even during the dreary winter months.

  2. Symbolism: In some cultures, Viburnum species are associated with symbolism. In the language of flowers, viburnum can represent "constancy" or "faithfulness" due to its evergreen nature. This symbolism has made it a popular choice for wedding bouquets and floral arrangements.

  3. Cultural Practices: In traditional Chinese medicine, certain Viburnum species, including those related to Viburnum rhytidophyllum, have been used for their medicinal properties. While not as widely used today, these historical practices reflect the cultural significance of this plant in traditional healing systems.

Folklore and Traditions

  1. Seasonal Markers: In some regions, the flowering of viburnum shrubs, including leatherleaf viburnum, is seen as a seasonal marker. The appearance of its fragrant spring blooms can signal the arrival of spring, making it a cherished part of local traditions and festivals.

  2. Warding Off Evil: In certain folk traditions, viburnum has been used to ward off evil spirits or protect against negative energies. It is believed that planting viburnum near homes can bring good luck and protect against malevolent forces.

  3. Gardens of Memory: In various cultures, gardens have been places of reflection and remembrance. Viburnum rhytidophyllum's year-round greenery has made it a suitable choice for memorial gardens, where it serves as a living tribute to loved ones who have passed away.

In conclusion, Viburnum rhytidophyllum's history and cultural significance are woven into the tapestry of gardens, symbolism, and traditions across different regions and eras. Its enduring beauty, adaptability, and symbolism as a plant of faithfulness and constancy continue to make it a cherished and culturally significant component of gardens and landscapes around the world. Whether appreciated for its aesthetics, symbolism, or historical connections, leatherleaf viburnum holds a special place in the hearts of gardeners and culture enthusiasts alike.

Some Additional Facts About the Wrinkled Viburnum

  1. Scientific Name: Viburnum rhytidophyllum is commonly known as Wrinkled Viburnum.

  2. Native Range: The Wrinkled Viburnum is native to China.

  3. Foliage: This evergreen shrub is known for its large, glossy, dark green leaves that have a distinct wrinkled or puckered appearance, giving it its name.

  4. Size: It typically grows to a height of 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 meters) with a similar spread, making it a substantial presence in the garden.

  5. Flowers: In late spring to early summer, it produces dense clusters of small, fragrant, creamy-white flowers.

  6. Fruit: After flowering, the plant develops red to black berries, adding ornamental interest and attracting birds.

  7. Hardiness: Wrinkled Viburnum is known for its hardiness, being able to withstand a range of environmental conditions.

  8. Adaptability: It thrives in a variety of soil types but prefers well-drained, slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil.

  9. Sun Requirements: While it can tolerate some shade, it generally performs best in full sun to partial shade.

  10. Drought Tolerance: Once established, it has good drought tolerance.

  11. Pruning: Pruning can be done after flowering to maintain its shape and encourage dense growth.

  12. Landscape Use: It's commonly used as a specimen plant, in borders, or as a hedge due to its attractive foliage and versatile nature.

  13. Deer Resistance: Wrinkled Viburnum is often resistant to deer browsing.

  14. Wildlife Habitat: The berries attract birds, contributing to the biodiversity of the garden.

  15. Disease Resistance: It is generally resistant to many common garden pests and diseases.

  16. Fragrance: The flowers emit a pleasant, sweet fragrance, making it a sensory delight in the garden.

  17. Year-Round Interest: With its evergreen foliage, it provides interest in the garden even during the winter months.

  18. Landscaping Companion: It pairs well with other shrubs and perennials, contributing to a well-balanced landscape.

  19. Versatility: Wrinkled Viburnum is suitable for both formal and informal garden styles.

  20. Landscape Design: Its bold foliage and distinctive appearance make it an excellent focal point in landscape design.


Wrinkled Viburnum filmed at Haigh Hall in Lancashire on the 15th September 2023.


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