Plant A Day – Blackhaw

Blackhaw Viburnum prunifolium

Blackhaw
Viburnum prunifolium

Here’s an interesting plant.  It was used, and is still used, as a medicinal for all sorts of gynecological problems.  It works so well that slaveowners would require their female slaves to eat the berries regularly to ensure that they would be healthy and fertile. Apparently the slaves would try to cause their own abortions because they didn’t want any babies born into bondage, so the slaveowners would force them to drink a decoction of the blackhaw bark while pregnant to avoid a miscarriage/abortion.  Americans had a shameful past.

I first spotted this plant in my front field.  I originally thought it was some sort of dogwood, since it has that sort of look.  The mosquitoes and poison ivy asked me to quickly take the pictures from awkward angles, and then get out of there.  After reviewing the pictures, I was able to identify it as a Blackhaw.  Among other things, dogwood flowers have four petals and Blackhaw has five.  This reminds me of a birding field trip I was on where one lady would take pictures of all of the birds to identify them later.  Sometimes that works best!

I mentioned this to my wife, the garden center specialist, who was just as excited as I because she had just bought one to take home from the garden center to plant in our yard. Now we have two!

Blackhaw is a fairly large shrub

Blackhaw is a fairly large shrub

The opposite branches stick out at 90 degrees from the trunk

The opposite branches stick out at 90 degrees from the trunk

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