Shrub Layer
Highbush Cranberry, Viburnum Trilobum

Highbush Cranberry, Viburnum Trilobum

No it’s not a true cranberry… but it can be used for anything a cranberry can be used for, with good results! And they’re hardy, and MUCH easier to grow for most people than true cranberries.


  • Cold hardiness zones: 2 – 7 (can withstand cold down to -50 F, -45 C)
  • Soil PH: 4.5 to 7.0i though some sources say up to 7.5ii
  • Watering needs: Average. Prefers consistent, evenly moist, well-drained ground, but once fully established, will tolerate some drought.
  • Blooming Season: Late springiii
  • Harvest season: Fall, though they can be harvested all winter.
  • Fruiting age: 5 years
  • Average mature yield: 20 pounds or more (or 9 kg)iv
  • Pollination for Fruit: Though highbush cranberry has been known to produce fruit on its own, you will get more fruit if you have more than one plant, one or both of which came from seed, or from another variety of viburnum, such as Wentworth viburnum, Viburnum edule (squashberry), viburnum koreanum (Korean spice viburnum).
  • Size at maturity: 8 – 12 feet tall, 10 feet wide (2.5 – 3.5 by 3 meters)
  • Sun needs: Full sun to partial shade
  • Preferred habitat: A moist woodland or lake edge.v
  • Growth rate (vigor): Medium, generally 3 feet per year
  • Reproductive rate (and methods): Medium, some by seed and some by root rhizomes.
  • Propagation Method: Rooting branch cuttings
  • Average life span: 30 yearsvi
  • Plant family: Adoxaceae


Highbush cranberry is not a true cranberry. True cranberries are related to the blueberry, and need similar acidic soil conditions. The highbush cranberry is a viburnum, in the same family with the snowball bush, nannyberry, blackhaw, and squashberry.

That said, the highbush cranberry is well named, because the fruit tastes like, and can be used just like real cranberries. And just like real cranberries, they are rather tart and juicy. There are many recipes for highbush cranberry sauce, jelly, and even pie.

Wentworth viburnum is a variety of highbush cranberry that has a particular abundance of fruit, and would probably make a great pollination companion for highbush, producing the same kind of berries—just more of them.