Mapleleaf Viburnum

mapleleaf viburnum

Mapleleaf Viburnum

Viburnum acerifolium

Cherokee:  ka ni ga

The Mapleleaf Virburnum is in the Honeysuckle family and can spread using rhizome roots.  It can grow from 2 to 6 feet tall and prefers wooded areas on slopes or hillsides.   It likes well drained soils and can take acidic soils.   You would want to place this plant in at least partial shade.   it gets its name from the leaves which are shaped like a maple leaf.   Some people confuse them when they are small with a maple tree.   This viburnum will attract rabbits, deer, pheasants, and wild turkeys.   The Cherokee knew this and would hunt for these animals when the viburnum was fruiting.    The foliage in the fall will turn a stunning color and develop a purple black “drups” (pear shaped berries).

The Mapleleaf Viburnum has a special place in Cherokee medicine because prior to the Trail of Tears (1838-1839) there were two major outbreaks of smallpox brought over by the European settlers.   Each outbreak killed half of the Cherokee.   The Cherokee had no immunity and had to find plant medicine to treat the disease.   That’s when the Cherokee would use a compound infusion to treat smallpox.   They would also use this compound infusion for fever.   In addition they would use an infusion of the bark as a wash for sore tongues and spasms.

The Cherokee often shared their native plant medicines with the European settlers.


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