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SPECIES:  Viburnum edule
Squashberry foliage (left) and fruit (right). Images by Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired),


SPECIES: Viburnum edule
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Matthews, Robin F. 1992. Viburnum edule. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: On 30 August 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: highbush cranberry to: squashberry. Images were also added.
ABBREVIATION: VIBEDU SYNONYMS: Viburnum pauciflorum LaPylaie Viburnum opulus var. edule Michx. Viburnum acerifolium Bong. NRCS PLANT CODE: VIED COMMON NAMES: squashberry few-flowered highbush cranberry highbush cranberry lowbush cranberry mooseberry TAXONOMY: The scientific name of squashberry is Viburnum edule (Michx.) Raf., in the family Caprifoliaceae [1,18,32,35,47]. There are no recognized infrataxa. LIFE FORM: Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: See OTHER STATUS OTHER STATUS: Squashberry is considered rare (species or habitat vulnerable or declining) in South Dakota [31]. It has also been placed on Maine's official Watch List [8].


SPECIES: Viburnum edule
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Squashberry is distributed throughout Alaska and across Canada to Newfoundland. It occurs south through the New England and Great Lakes States, and the Pacific Northwest [1,18,45,49,58]. Populations are also found in Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado [10,11,26,43,53].
Distribution of squashberry. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC. [2018, August 30] [54].

   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES11  Spruce - fir
   FRES19  Aspen - birch
   FRES23  Fir - spruce
   FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce
   FRES26  Lodgepole pine
   FRES28  Western hardwoods

     AK  CO  CT  ID  IA  ME  MD  MA  MI  MN
     MT  NH  NY  ND  OR  PA  RI  SD  VT  WA
     WI  WY  AB  BC  LB  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS
     ON  PE  PQ  SK  YT

    1  Northern Pacific Border
    2  Cascade Mountains
    8  Northern Rocky Mountains
    9  Middle Rocky Mountains
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   15  Black Hills Uplift

   K001  Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest
   K004  Fir - hemlock forest
   K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
   K015  Western spruce - fir forest
   K025  Alder - ash forest
   K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
   K094  Conifer bog
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest
   K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest
   K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest

     1  Jack pine
     5  Balsam fir
    12  Black spruce
    13  Black spruce - tamarack
    16  Aspen
    17  Pin cherry
    18  Paper birch
    38  Tamarack
   107  White spruce
   201  White spruce
   202  White spruce - paper birch
   203  Balsam poplar
   204  Black spruce
   205  Mountain hemlock
   206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
   217  Aspen
   218  Lodgepole pine
   222  Black cottonwood - willow
   224  Western hemlock
   227  Western redcedar - western hemlock
   228  Western redcedar
   251  White spruce - aspen
   252  Paper birch
   253  Black spruce - white spruce
   254  Black spruce - paper birch

Squashberry may occur as a dominant or codominant understory
species in open or closed coniferous forests, primarily in white spruce
(Picea glauca) [12,19,50,57], but also in lodgepole pine (Pinus
contorta) [7] or western redcedar (Thuja plicata) habitats [25].  It may
also occur as an understory dominant in open or closed deciduous forests
with quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), paper birch (Betula
papyrifera), or balsam poplar (P. balsamifera) [7,19,57].

Common understory associates include:  willows (Salix spp.), alders
(Alnus spp.), raspberries (Rubus spp.), currants (Ribes spp.), prickly
rose (Rosa acicularis), lignonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), rusty
menziesia (Menziesia ferruginea), hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), bog
Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), one sided wintergreen (Pyrola
secunda), dogwoods (Cornus canadensis and C. stolonifera), buffaloberry
(Shepherdia canadensis), devil's club (Oplopanax horridus), queencup
beadlily (Clintonia uniflora), oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris),
twinflower (Linnaea borealis), twinberry honeysuckle (Lonicera
involucrata), fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), bearberry
(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), horsetails (Equisetum pratense, E. arvense,
and E. sylvanicum), bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis), and
various feather mosses (Hylocomium and Pleurozium spp.), sedges (Carex spp.),
lichens (Cladonia and Cladina spp.) and sphagnum mosses.

Published classifications listing squashberry as a dominant
understory species in plant associations (pas), community types (cts),
or vegetation types (vts) are as follows:

AREA                       CLASSIFICATION       AUTHORITY

wc AB                      forest cts           Corns 1983
int AK                     gen. veg. cts        Dyrness and others 1989
int AK                     postfire forest cts  Foote 1983
YT                         vts                  Stanek 1980
BC: Salmon River Valley    vts                  Harcombe and others 1983
AK                         gen. veg. pas        Viereck & Dyrness 1980


SPECIES: Viburnum edule
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Highbush cranberries are consumed by many small mammals and songbirds [22,58]. Game birds including spruce grouse and ruffed grouse also eat the berries [15,34]. Foliage is browsed by beaver, rabbit, and snowshoe hare [22]. Squashberry is of low to moderate importance as browse to Roosevelt elk, Rocky Mountain elk, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, black-tail deer, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and caribou [2,5]. The foliage is also browsed by moose throughout the year [37,48]. Squashberry fruits are a major food of grizzly bears [3,23,40]. Black bears consume the fruits in late fall [27]. PALATABILITY: Viburnum foliage is low in palatability to livestock [55]. Pease [42] states that Viburnum foliage is highly unpalatable to snowshoe hare, but others report it to be a preferred hare food in some areas [60]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Squashberry's current annual stem and leaf growth collected in July from Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, were analyzed for browse quality to moose. In-vitro dry matter digestibility was 52.8 percent and protein content was 10.3 percent. Concentrations of the following elements were found [41]: Macroelements (ppm) Ca K Mg Na ___________________________________________ 3,284 10,798 2,112 106 Microelements (ppm) Cu Fe Mn Zn ___________________________________________ 21.0 5.0 24.4 23.5 COVER VALUE: Viburnum species are important components of forest-edge and hedgerow habitats that provide cover for small mammals and birds [21]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: The value of squashberry for rehabilitative purposes has not been well documented. It was studied for its use in oil sands reclamation, but no results were detailed [17]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: Highbush cranberries are edible and make excellent jams, jellies, and sauces if picked before fully mature [29,32,58]. The berries were an important food of Native Americans of the Bella Coola region of British Columbia, where a single shrub may yield up to 100 berries [38]. The plant is cultivated for its brilliant red autumnal foliage [58]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Squashberry is not considered to be a primary competitor to conifers but is a component of major brush complexes that occur on moist, productive sites on floodplains or under deciduous canopies. It can compete significantly with natural or planted white spruce seedlings in the Sub-Boreal Spruce and Boreal White and Black Spruce (Picea mariana) Zones, where it is most abundant [22]. Squashberry has shown varying responses to overstory removal. Near Prince George, British Columbia, squashberry in white spruce-subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) forests had not become a significant component of the vegetation 6 years after clearcutting, although it was present on all sites prior to the harvest [14]. In Alberta, squashberry had significantly lower cover in 6- to 12-year-old clearcut areas than in adjacent mature lodgepole pine stands. In contrast, logging of a balsam poplar stand in Alaska caused a dramatic increase in squashberry density. It was one of the dominant shrubs and reached 3.3 feet (1 m) in height within 4 years [22]. In general, frequency and cover are expected to remain constant or decrease slightly in the first few years after overstory removal. Vigor may increase slowly on favorable sites [6]. Squashberry is a seed-banking species, and soil disturbance resulting from mechanical site preparation favors germination of stored seed. The disturbance may also provide favorable seedbeds for freshly deposited seed. Plants damaged in site preparation sprout from root stocks and stem bases [6]. Squashberry increased less in a winter-logged balsam poplar stand than in one that had been summer-logged. Higher soil disturbance on the summer-logged site may have stimulated sprouting. However, scarification did not enhance cover of squashberry in clearcut areas near Edson, Alberta [22]. Squashberry was also less abundant on mechanically prepared sites than on unscalped sites in interior Alaska. Frequency and cover of squashberry 3 years after clearcutting and shelterwood cutting of white spruce stands were as follows [63]: Clearcut Shelterwood scalped unscalped scalped unscalped _____________________________________________________ Frequency (%) 13.3 38.3 13.3 20.0 Cover (%) 1.8 5.2 1.7 3.2 Squashberry can be propagated vegetatively by hardwood or softwood cuttings, although softwood cuttings are far more successful at producing roots. Softwood cuttings root sooner and more prolifically in sand than in perlite. Rooting success greatly increases by treating cuttings with IBA (Indole-3-butyric acid). Rhizome cuttings also successfully produce roots when planted immediately after fall collection [30]. Seeding may also be used for propagation of Viburnums. Seeds may be broadcast sown on prepared seedbeds and mulched with sawdust or sown with drills and mulched with straw. Seedlings may require shading, depending on location. Fertile, moist soils which are neutral to slightly acidic result in best germination [21]. Herbicides can be used to control squashberry. Glyphosate exhibits good control and causes moderately severe damage to the plant [2,22]. Aerially spraying a young aspen-balsam poplar stand in June resulted in 95 percent defoliation and heavy mortality of squashberry [22]. Roundup also causes defoliation and moderate mortality rates [6]. Hexazinone does not appear to control squashberry effectively [2,6]. Squashberry is utilized heavily in tent caterpillar outbreaks [52]. Aphids, thrips, spider mites, and scale are also likely to occur on Viburnums. A leaf spot (Ascochyta viburni) has been found on plants along coastal British Columbia, and a rust (Puccinia linkii) has been found on plants in northern British Columbia. Neither of these diseases is considered serious [22].


SPECIES: Viburnum edule
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Squashberry is a straggling to erect deciduous shrub that reaches heights ranging from 2 to 12 feet (0.6-3.5 m) [22,32,58]. It has several to many stems that may grow to 1.5 inches (4 cm) in diameter [58]. The plant has smooth gray bark and sharply toothed leaves that are shallowly lobed. Milky-white flowers are borne in few-flowered terminal cymes. The fruit is an orange to red drupe that contains one seed [1,32,58]. The berries often overwinter on twigs. Highbush cranberry roots in the organic layer [51] and is rhizomatous [22]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Sexual reproduction: Squashberry begins to produce fruits at approximately 5 years of age, and then produces large quantities nearly every year thereafter. The one-seeded fruits are dispersed by the birds and mammals that consume them [6,22]. Germination is normally delayed until the second growing season after ripening. The seeds exhibit seed coat and embryo dormancy that requires a two-stage stratification to be broken. Most successful germination takes place when a warm period is followed by cold stratification [21,22,59]. The radicle emerges and begins growth during the warm period, and the cold period breaks the dormancy of the plumule, which then grows when temperatures become warmer. The time period of these stages is critical but has not been worked out in detail. Clean, air-dried seeds can be stored up to 10 years without losing viability. Squashberry is a seed-banking species [21,22]. Vegetative reproduction: Squashberry can reproduce vegetatively by natural layering and sprouting from damaged root stocks, stembases, and stumps. The plant is rhizomatous, but there is no evidence of lateral spread from the parent by rhizome or root suckers [22]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Squashberry is found in moist woods or forests, along stream or lake margins on gravel or rocky banks, and on swamp or bog margins [22,49,58]. In British Columbia, the plant is found from sea level to about 4,900 feet (1,500 m) [22], but in Colorado elevational range is 7,000 to 9,000 feet (2,100-2,700 m) [26]. The southern extent of squashberry's distribution is determined by high temperatures and low humidity. Its presence at northern latitudes indicates a high tolerance to frost and the ability to grow in low soil and air temperatures. In moist climates, squashberry grows on submesic to subhydric soils, but in drier climates it is restricted to subhygric and wetter moisture regimes. Squashberry commonly grows under a deciduous or coniferous canopy but probably develops best under full sunlight [22]. Squashberry grows best on well-drained, alluvial soils [6,9,12,62]. Soil textures include clay, silty clay, sandy clay loam, and fine loam [9,33,62]. Soil types include Luvisols, Brunisols, Humo-Ferric Podzols, Regosols, and Gleysols [22]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Squashberry is moderately shade tolerant [6] and is important throughout all stages of forest succession [46,61]. In floodplain succession, squashberry is present from the pioneer willow through seral balsam poplar stages. It remains important in mature and climax white spruce and black spruce-white spruce types [56]. Squashberry sprouts following fire and is an important component of early, midseral, and climax postfire communities [13,61]. The following frequencies and densities were found in white spruce stands in interior Alaska: Stage Years after fire Frequency(%) Density(stems/acre) _______________________________________________________________________ Newly burned 0-1 78 15,201 (37,562 st/ha) Moss-herb 1-5 21 2,795 (6,906 st/ha) Tall shrub-sapling 3-30 30 13,445 (33,222 st/ha) Dense tree 26-45 36 3,713 (9,175 st/ha) Hardwood 46-150 55 15,378 (38,000 st/ha) Spruce 150-300+ 39 2,049 (5,062 st/ha) Low successive peaks between the newly burned, tall shrub-sapling, and hardwood stages may have been caused by stand differences or successful establishment followed by opportunism [19]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Squashberry flowers from May to August, depending on location. Fruits ripen from August to October and persist throughout the winter [18,22,58]. Leaf flush begins in April or May, and senescence and abscission take place earlier than on associated shrubs [22].


SPECIES: Viburnum edule
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Squashberry sprouts from the stump, roots, or underground stems following fire [13,61]. Sprouting may also occur at the base of fire-killed aboveground stems [22,24]. Squashberry roots are buried approximately 8 inches (20 cm) below the soil surface, allowing them to survive light fires that do not entirely remove the organic layer [51]. Rhizomes will also survive fires of this nature. Highbush cranberry seeds are hard and have thick seed coats, making them somewhat resistant to fire [59]. Regeneration by seeds stored in the soil may actually be favored by low-severity fires [22]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY: survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex survivor species; on-site surviving rhizomes ground-stored residual colonizer; fire-activated seed on-site in soil off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2 secondary colonizer; off-site seed carried to site after year 2


SPECIES: Viburnum edule
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Fire top-kills squashberry. Moderate- to high-severity fires which remove soil organic layers may kill roots, underground stems, and buried seeds. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Squashberry sprouts within weeks following fire [19,22] and often becomes one of the dominant postfire shrubs [22]. Low-severity fires stimulate germination of seeds stored in the soil [24,47]. Abundance of the plant may be initially reduced after fire, but an increase over prefire density may take place within the next 10 years [6,28]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE: The Research Project Summary Understory recovery after burning and reburning quaking aspen stands in central Alberta provides information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species including squashberry. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Prescribed fires of low-severity and short duration are recommended for the management of squashberry. Fires of this type favor the germination of buried seeds and sprouting of vegetative structures [6,22,47].


SPECIES: Viburnum edule
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