Blackhaw, Viburnum prunifolium
Winter is a great time to practice identifying plants by learning to identify their berries. Come back in the spring and summer to see what leaves and flowers belong to that same plant.
Some of the most common berries to see this time of year are bittersweet, holly berries, coral berries, American Beauty berries, barberry (looks like red Christmas lights), wintergreen (smells delicious), and native viburnums.
Viburnums come in lots of varieties on the East Coast, including nannyberry, mapleleaf viburnum, witherod viburnum, cranberrybush, hobblebush, and many many more. Viburnums have a lot of ecological benefits. Their beautiful white spring flowers provide food for pollinators. Many are larval hosts for butterflies. Songbirds feast on their berries in the fall and winter. The berries, leaves and bark were used medicinally by Native Americans.
Viburnum berries are obvious now in the winter. Viburnum prunifolium, also called blackhaw, is a viburnum that’s easy to identify as the twigs, loaded with nearly black berries, extend at right angles from the branch like a fish skeleton.