9 May 2022
In early April in Frick Park I noticed many woody saplings leafing out ahead of all the other plants. They were everywhere sporting dark green pleated leaves while the rest of the woods were brown. They looked invasive. I took a picture.
In early May the older ones started to bloom. Viburnum. But which one?
Viburnums are hard to identify so I asked my friends from the Botanical Society of Western PA, Mark Bowers and Loree Speedy, who identified it as Japanese snowball (Vibrunum plicatum) and remembered it from a survey in Frick Park a few years ago.
When Frick Park was established in 1919 its grand entry was landscaped with beautiful plants from around the world, available from catalogs such as this one from 1910 showing Viburnum plicatum var Tomentosum.
The plant looks good in the catalog and even better in person. For over 100 years it’s been thriving and spreading in the park.
It is now listed as invasive in Pennsylvania, certainly in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties.
Pretty, but invasive.
Read more about invasive vs. native viburnums in this article from Maryland Invasive Species Council: Choose Your Viburnums With Care.
(photos by Kate St. John and from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)