Viburnum edule (Michx.) Raf.

Viburnum edule
Julia Goren

Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
State Protection
Listed as Threatened by New York State: likely to become Endangered in the foreseeable future. For animals, taking, importation, transportation, or possession is prohibited, except under license or permit. For plants, removal or damage without the consent of the landowner is prohibited.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Imperiled in New York - Very vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to rarity or other factors; typically 6 to 20 populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?

Squashberry may be more common than we think because it occurs along small streams in the Adirondacks and most of these are fairly inaccessible. Pioneers in Newfoundland swallowed the juice of the berries in the belief that it cured colds (Squashberry in The Dark Tickle Company, web site accessed 21 November 2007). The berry is indeed easy to squash.

State Ranking Justification

There are 14 existing populations but all of them have fewer than 50 plants each. There are three additional historical records, and more populations may be found as more remote streams are surveyed. Numbers may decrease in the future if plants are attacked by the viburnum leaf beetle.

Short-term Trends

Short-term trends seem stable although more survey work is needed to understand how many of the small populations are persisting. Future trends could decline dramatically if plants are affected by the viburnum leaf beetle.

Long-term Trends

Most of the historical records have been relocated and recent survey work has discovered many new populations. Many populations have probably persisted throughout the Adirondacks for a long time.

Conservation and Management


Threats are low but some plants close to the trail may be trampled by hikers. It is unknown to what extent deer and possibly moose browse this species. A future threat may be viburnum leaf beetle.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Plants near hiking trails should be monitored for hiker impacts.

Research Needs

Populations should be monitored to observe if plants are attacked by the viburnum leaf beetle. Habitat preference should be studied to determine why the species seems rare in habitat that is common throughout the Adirondacks, and why populations are usually small.



In New York squashberry has typically been discovered in boreal forest habitats of the Adirondacks, most often though not always along streams. At these sites the soils are rocky, with the plants sometimes growing from cracks among talus or boulder fields. The lone site from the Catskill Mountains, though not as boreal in character, is also a rocky, moist microhabitat along a stream (New York Natural Heritage Program 2007). Moist woods (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). Woods and thickets, and on mts. or cool slopes (Fernald 1970).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Mountain fir forest (guide)
    A conifer forest that occurs at high elevations in the Catskill and Adirondack mountains, usually at elevations ranging from 3500 to 4500 ft. This forest typically occurs on cool upper slopes that are exposed to wind, at elevations above spruce-northern hardwood forests, usually above mountain spruce fir forest, and below alpine krummholz. The vegetation typically has a low species diversity; the tree layer is almost entirely balsam fir.
  • Mountain spruce-fir forest (guide)
    A conifer forest that occurs at high elevations in the Catskill and Adirondack mountains, usually at elevations ranging from 3000 to 4000 ft. This forest occurs on upper slopes that are somewhat protected from the prevailing westerly winds, usually at elevations above spruce-northern hardwood forests, and below mountain fir forests. The dominant trees are red spruce and balsam fir.
  • Spruce flats (guide)
    A mixed forest that occurs on moist sites along the borders of swamps and in low flats along lakes and streams in the Adirondacks. Soils are strongly podzolized, loamy to sandy, and seasonally moist, but not saturated and not peaty. Typically, the dominant trees are red spruce and red maple.
  • Spruce-northern hardwood forest (guide)
    A mixed forest that occurs on lower mountain slopes and upper margins of flats on glacial till. This is a broadly defined community with several variants; it is one of the most common forest types in the Adirondacks. Codominant trees are red spruce, sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch, and red maple, with scattered balsam fir.

Associated Species

  • Abies balsamea (balsam fir)
  • Betula cordifolia (mountain paper birch)
  • Calamagrostis canadensis
  • Clintonia borealis (blue bead-lily)
  • Coptis trifolia (gold-thread)
  • Cornus canadensis (bunchberry)
  • Oclemena acuminata (whorled wood-aster)
  • Picea rubens (red spruce)
  • Solidago macrophylla (large-leaved goldenrod)
  • Sorbus americana (American mountain-ash)
  • Vaccinium myrtilloides (velvet-leaved blueberry)


New York State Distribution

In New York Squashberry is known only from the Adirondacks and a single location in the Catskills.

Global Distribution

Viburnum edule is a boreal plant, found in Alaska and across Canada, ranging to the northern tier of the United States from Maine to Washington, and in the west as far south as South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Oregon.

Identification Comments

General Description

Squashberry is an opposite-branched, erect shrub growing up to 2 m tall. The leaves are simple, opposite, and glabrous (or nearly so), with palmate veins, 3 shallow lobes, and they are toothed. The flowers are white and borne laterally on the branches in clusters up to 2.5 cm wide. The fruit are red when mature.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

This species is easiest to identify when it has flowers or fruit, but plants without these may be identified, too.

Similar Species

Viburnum acerifolium has leaves with a similar overall shape, but the undersides are covered with soft, white hairs, the flower clusters are terminal, and the mature fruits are black. Viburnum opulus has leaves with deeper lobes, coarser teeth, and glands and stipules on the petioles, and its flower clusters have large, sterile flowers around their perimeters.

Best Time to See

Squashberry flowers in June and July, and the fruits may persist into September.

  • Flowering
  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Squashberry flowering and fruiting in New York.

Squashberry Images

Images of Similar Species


Viburnum edule (Michx.) Raf.

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
        • Order Dipsacales
          • Family Viburnaceae

Additional Common Names

  • Mooseberry

Additional Resources


Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Haines, Arthur and Thomas F. Vining. 1998. Flora of Maine. A Manual for Identification of Native and Naturalized Vascular Plants of Maine.

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Newcomb, Lawrence. 1977. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: An Ingenious New Key System for Quick, Positive Field Identification of the Wildflowers, Flowering Shrubs, and Vines of Northeastern and North-Central North America. Little, Brown and Company. Boston.

Soper, James H. and Margaret L. Heimburger. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada, 495P.

Voss, Edward G. 1996. Michigan Flora Part III. Dicots Concluded (Pyrolaceae - Compositae). Cranbrook Institute of Science Bulletin 61 and University of Michigan Herbarium. 622 pp.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/, Albany, New York

Weldy, Troy W. and David Werier. 2005. New York Flora Atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research. University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, NY. Available on the web at (http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/).


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: December 30, 2008

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Viburnum edule. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/squashberry/. Accessed June 23, 2024.