Herb: American Cranberry

Latin name: Viburnum trilobum

Synonyms: Viburnum opulus americanum

Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Medicinal use of American Cranberry:

An infusion of the roots has been used in the treatment of prolapse of the uterus. A decoction has been given to babies with fevers. A decoction of the branches has been used to treat a fallen womb after birth. The bark is laxative. An infusion of the roots has been used to make a person vomit in the treatment of bad blood and fevers. An infusion of the inner bark has been used to treat stomach cramps.

Description of the plant:


3 m
(9 3/4 foot)


Habitat of the herb:

Stream banks. Low moist ground.

Edible parts of American Cranberry:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Juicy but acid, the taste is best after a frost. The fruits are rich in vitamin C, they are an excellent substitute for cranberries and are used in preserves, jams etc. A jam made from the fruit has a very pleasant flavour that goes well in a porridge. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter and contains a single large seed.

Propagation of the herb:

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 American Cranberry:

Stream banks. Low moist ground.

Known hazards of Viburnum trilobum:

Large quantities of the fruit can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. The fruit is of very low or zero toxicity, it only causes mild upsets when eaten unripe or in large quantities.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.