Deciduous, late spring flowering North American shrub
Description: Bears clusters of white blossoms followed by showy, deep red berries that persist through winter; bright red fall color
Habit: Grows to 10 feet high and 5 feet wide; upright, vase-shaped shrub; may sucker to form colonies
Culture: Prefers full sun to part shade and average, well-drained soil; tolerates boggy soils
Hardiness: Cold hardy to USDA Zone 4
Origin: North America
Attributes: Fall color, showy berries, rain garden
This attractive and vigorous North American shrub grows in bogs, swamps, and moist forests from Nova Scotia to Florida and Texas, especially along the coastal areas. During the 18th century, this species was often classified as Sorbus arbutifolia but was sometimes thought to be a kind of pear (hence Pyrus arbutifolia). Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon considered it a type of Medlar, calling it “Arbutus-leaved Medlar, Mespilus arbutifolia” in the 1806 edition of his American Gardener’s Calendar. This very desirable native plant boasts multi-season interest and has few pests and diseases. The fruits are edible but very astringent.