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GUELDER-ROSE

Dogberry, Water Elder

Viburnum opulus

Moschatel Family [Adoxaceae]  

Flowers:
month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

Berries: berryZpossible        berryZgreen berryZorange berryZred  (edible in small amounts, acrid, sticky juice)
berry8jul berry8july berry8aug berry8sep berry8sept berry8oct

category
category8Shrubs
category
category8Deciduous
category
category8Broadleaf
status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8cream
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZumbel
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZhigh

9th July 2009, ex-Sandhole Mineral Line, Blackleach, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
At first glance the shrub looks like Elder(berry).


9th July 2009, ex-Sandhole Mineral Line, Blackleach, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
With flat pancakes of white flowers, displayed as if umbels and resembling Lacecap Hydrangea but they have 4-petalled flowers.


9th July 2009, ex-Sandhole Mineral Line, Blackleach, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Pure white flowers surround smaller cream-coloured flowers gathered in the centre of the pancake. A typical three-lobed leaf beneath.


3rd May 2010, River Irwell, Prestwich Forest Pk, M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The outer flowers open greenish, whilst the inner flowers remain in bud form.


11th May 2011, East Lancs Railway, Rawtenstall, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The outer flowers open out, becoming a rich cream colour whilst the inner ones are still to open.


19th May 2011, Blackleach Country Park, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The larger outer flowers have fully opened and turned a brilliant white whilst some of the cream-coloured buds of the much smaller inner flowers have opened. The large outer flowers are sterile; the smaller inner ones fertile.


9th July 2009, ex-Sandhole Mineral Line, Blackleach, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Large outer flowers have five petals but are sterile with no anthers or stamens. Inner flowers are cream-coloured, much smaller and fertile.


19th May 2011, Blackleach Country Park, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The fertile inner flowers have less distinct petals, which also number five, with five stamens and fawn-coloured anthers.
19th May 2011, Blackleach Country Park, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Inner flowers: 5 stubby petals, five white stamens with creamy pollen, and a pinkish style deep inside.


19th May 2011, Blackleach Country Park, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
A small fly perches on inner buds.


28th Aug 2004, White Coppice, Chorley, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The shrub heavily laden with red berries, in drupes.


3rd Sept 2008, Hollingworth Branch, Daisy Nook, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
The leaves have prominent veins by transmitted light.


16th July 2009, ex-Sandhole Mineral Line, Blackleach, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Berries initially orange. Leaves quite variable, here with prominent teeth besides three lobes.


9th July 2009, ex-Sandhole Mineral Line, Blackleach, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Leaves vary considerable in shape. Here teeth in-evident.


9th July 2009, ex-Sandhole Mineral Line, Blackleach, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Several leaf shapes on display.


July 2008, North Walney Island, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Berries initially held upwards, later the drupes droop downwards. Here leaves very pointed, and reddening.


3rd Sept 2008, Hollingworth Branch, Daisy Nook, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Distinct leaf veins.


21st Sept 2009, ex-Sandhole Mineral Line, Blackleach, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Leaves reddening in autumn.


9th July 2009, ex-Sandhole Mineral Line, Blackleach, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Main stem round, side branched may be hexagonal in places.


9th July 2009, ex-Sandhole Mineral Line, Blackleach, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Branches may be multi-faceted just above junctions.



Some similarities to : Lacecap Hydrangeas, insofar as that also has larger flowers on the periphery of the 'umbel', but Lacecap Hydrangeas are not usually white and are cultivated garden plants. Also to Elder (Elderflower / Elderberry), but in Elder the flowers are much the same size across the pancake.

Slight resemblance to : flowers in the Umbellifers (Carrot Family) (since it has flowers in flat umbel-like clusters.

Distinguishing Feature : The three-pronged leaves together with the flat umbel of white flowers, the outer of which are much larger (and sterile) than the inner ones.

No relation to : Any Rose at all [they are merely plants with similar names]

Guelder-rose was once thought to belong in the Honeysuckle Family [Caprifoliacea], but now Taxonomists have changed their minds and think it now more properly resides in the Moschatel Family. The berries may be less toxic than was once thought.

Chemically, Guelder-rose contains the resinous greenish-yellow bitter principle and complex iridoid glycoside Viburnin plus Valerianic Acid (aka Isobutyric Acid), α-Amyrin, β-Amyrin, Coumarins (Scopoletin and Aesculetin), Oxalates, Salicosides (being glycosides of salicylates), Tannins and Saponins. Many of those compounds are poisonous.

Traditionally, concoctions from the plant have been used as a smasmolytic (to relieve both voluntary and in-voluntary muscle spasms).

The berries, which are poisonous unless cooked, are translucent red and contain a sticky juice. They make a good jam, it is told. The leaves turn a brilliant scarlet in autumn.

Habitat: Dry and damp scrub, hedges and Fens.

Valerianic Acid, better known as Isobutyric Acid or 2-methylpropanoic acid, is a simple carboxylic acid or short-chain fatty acid (very short!), found in Guelder-Rose.

It is a flammable vaporous liquid and toxic irritant that will burn the skin and eyes on contact; exposure should be avoided. It has a characteristic sweet smell to those who can smell it, but about 1 in 40 of the population have a genetic disability to smell this compound. Small amounts are found in certain foods and fermented drinks.

A COUMARIN SUNBLOCKER

Aesculetin (aka Cichorigenin and Esculetin) is a derivative of Coumarin and a natural lactone found in Guelder-rose Lavender, Strawberries, Cinnamon and Chicory (hence the synonym Cichorigenin).

Aesculetin/Esculetin should not to be confused with Aesculin/Esculin which is the glycoside of the former.

Like Scopoletin which is also found in Guelder-rose, Aesculetin is used as a UV-blocker in suncreams, although paradoxically there is some evidence to suggest that it is photo-toxic, damaging the skin when exposed to UV!

Aesculetin also helps to prevent liver damage caused by an over-dose of Paracetamol. Aesculetin is thus anti-hepatotoxic, which may explain the folklore use of Chicory in which it also occurs for liver damage.

Aesculetin is used pharmaceutically as an anti-dysentry drug. For this purpose it is obtained from the Chinese Ash Tree (Frazinus rhychophylla) which is not native to the UK.


  Viburnum opulus  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Adoxaceae  

Distribution
 family8Moschatel family8Adoxaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Viburnum
Viburnum
(Viburnums)

GUELDER-ROSE

Dogberry, Water Elder

Viburnum opulus

Moschatel Family [Adoxaceae]  

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