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Korean Spice Viburnum

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Picture of white flowers of Koreanspice viburnum.

Picture of white flowers of Koreanspice viburnum.

David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy of Korean Spice Viburnum:

Plant taxonomy classifies Korean spice viburnum shrubs as Viburnum carlesii. These bushes are also called "Koreanspice viburnum" or "Korean spicebush" (not to be confused with Lindera benzoin, also known as "spicebush").

Plant Type:

Korean spice viburnums are deciduous flowering shrubs.

Characteristics of Korean Spice Viburnum:

Korean spice viburnum shrubs reach 4-6 feet in height at maturity, with a similar spread. The 'Compactum' cultivar stays a bit smaller. Rather showy pink buds precede the flowers in spring; the latter, although white, retain hints of that earlier pink color. The white flower clusters are very fragrant. Red berries may replace the blooms in summer. In autumn, these berries mature to a dark color (almost black), teaming with the leaves' fall foliage color for a noteworthy, albeit unspectacular display. Fall leaves begin reddish but morph into a purplish color.

Planting Zones for Korean Spice Viburnum:

Grow Korean spice viburnum shrubs in planting zones 4-7.

Sun and Soil Requirements:

Plant Korean spice viburnums in full sun to partial shade. These bushes grow best in moist but well-drained ground that has a soil pH on the acidic side.

Outstanding Characteristic of Korean Spice Viburnum:

No doubt, the outstanding feature of Korean spice viburnum shrubs is their aromatic quality. Their blossoms are among the landscape's most fragrant flowers.

Uses for Korean Spice Viburnum:

Korean spice viburnum bushes certainly merit specimen plant status in the spring landscape. Due to their exceptional fragrance, you should include these bushes in your entryway landscaping or as foundation shrubs, so as to be able to appreciate their aroma more fully.

Wildlife Attracted to Korean Spice Viburnum:

These bushes are among the many plants that attract butterflies. Specifically, the caterpillars of spring azure blue butterflies use Korean spice viburnums as a food source. Wild birds are also attracted to Korean spice viburnum shrubs, to feed on the berries. As to a certain unwanted visitor from the Animal Kingdom, I can list them among the rabbit-proof flowers with some confidence, as I've had lots of rabbit damage in my landscaping yet this bush has been spared.

Origin of the Names "Korean Spicebush," "Korean Spice Viburnum" :

The "Korean" part of the name is straightforward enough, since Korean spice viburnum shrubs are indigenous to Korea. But what about the reference to "spice?" Rather than referring to a culinary use, "spice" here is an attempt to describe the complexity of the plant's aroma. The fragrance is sweet, but much more than just sweet. There's a sharpness to the fragrance, and some say the smell reminds them of cloves.

Care for Korean Spice Viburnum:

Buds for Korean spice viburnums form on the prior season's growth. Therefore, if you wish to prune the plants back in order to shape them and/or restrict their size, do your pruning just after they've finished flowering. Just cut the tips to promote branching and a bushier look.


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