Herb: Stagberry

Latin name: Viburnum prunifolium

Synonyms: Viburnum pyrifolium

Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Medicinal use of Stagberry:

Stagberry was used by the North American Indians to treat dysentery and to arrest haemorrhage of the uterus. It is now considered to be a specific treatment for the relief of menstrual pain - the bark contains "scopoletin", a coumarin that has a sedative affect on the uterus and salicin, a painkiller that is used in making aspirin. The bark of the root and stems is abortifacient, anodyne, antispasmodic, astringent, nervine and sedative. A tea is used internally in the treatment of painful or heavy menstruation, prolapse of the uterus, morning sickness, to prevent miscarriage and to relieve spasms after childbirth. It is also used to treat convulsive disorders, colic and other cramping pains that affect the bile ducts, hysteria, asthma and palpitations of a nervous origin. The stem bark is harvested in the autumn before the leaves change colour, or in the spring before the leaf buds open. The root bark is only harvested in the autumn. Both barks can be dried for later use.

Description of the plant:


7.5 m
(25 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Thickets, woodland borders, shores etc, and on dry rocky hillsides.

Edible parts of Stagberry:

Fruit - raw or cooked. A thin dry flesh with a sweet taste. The fruit is somewhat variable in size and quality, the best forms are nice raw whilst others are used for making preserves etc. The taste is best after a frost. The ovoid fruit is about 17mm long and contains a single large seed.

Other uses of the herb:

Plants can be grown as a hedge, they can be sheared to make a formal screen. Wood - heavy, hard, strong, brittle, close grained. It weighs 52lb per cubic foot, but is of no commercial importance due to the small size of the trees.

Propagation of Stagberry:

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Germination can be slow, sometimes taking more than 18 months. If the seed is harvested "green" (when it has fully developed but before it has fully ripened) and sown immediately in a cold frame, it should germinate in the spring. Stored seed will require 2 months warm then 3 months cold stratification and can still take 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame or greenhouse. Plant out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of soft-wood, early summer in a frame. Pot up into individual pots once they start to root and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8 cm long with a heel if possible, July/August in a frame. Plant them into individual pots as soon as they start to root. These cuttings can be difficult to overwinter, it is best to keep them in a greenhouse or cold frame until the following spring before planting them out. Cuttings of mature wood, winter in a frame. They should root in early spring - pot them up when large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer if sufficient new growth is made, otherwise keep them in a cold frame for the next winter and then plant them out in the spring. Layering of current seasons growth in July/August. Takes 15 months.

Cultivation of the herb:

Thickets, woodland borders, shores etc, and on dry rocky hillsides.

Known hazards of Viburnum prunifolium:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.