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Naturalist Friday: Stumbling across Hobblebush

Taken along Sterling Forest’s Upper Gorge Loop

Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides) is a humble broad-leaved wood plant that tends to inhabit the understory of cool forests under 3000 ft in elevation. This helps to make them quite prolific in our region of Vermont. In the Spring, the Hobblebush produces beautiful, sterile white flowers that change into tough berries that morph from green, to red, to black. These flowers are irresistable to many pollinator species and attract a large number of insect pollinators, despite not producing any pollen. 

Hobblebush has also been a favorite snack for browsing deer and moose, and has been called 'moosewood' or 'moosebush' in the past. The reason that people call it Hobblebush is that it will often trip or 'hobble' you. The branches of the Hobblebush are wiry and often suspended off the tree in a declining slope, causing them to droop as the leaves unfurl and berries begin to form. When these branches touch the ground they may actually begin to take root, causing these low-lying shrubs to become quite haphazardous to travel through or around. Easiest way to cultivate this plant is to take cuttings or branches to directly plant, and acts as a great thicket plant. Just be careful, as the hobblebush is true to its name and makes clearing it out of a thicketed area hazardous if left undisturbed for extended periods of time. 

For more information regarding Hobblebushes check out these great resources:

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