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Viburnum lantana

Biological Category 
Species Type 
Shrub or woody bush
NY Invasiveness Rank 
LHPrism Status 
Tier 5 - Watch

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  • Wayfaring tree is a member of the Moschatel family (Adoxaceae).
  • A large, 10-15 foot shrub native to Eurasia and North Africa, it is prized for its adaptability in numerous garden settings and attractive clusters of summer blooming flowers. (1)

Leaves are 2-5 inches long, opposite, simple, thick, tough, and dark green. Leaf margins are finely toothed. The leaf underside is densely downy. 

3-5 inch wide clusters of white flowers emerge in June.   

Red single-seeded fruits ripen to black late summer through fall. Fruit is attractive to birds and other small mammals and is borne on downy, brown stems    

Introduction History 
Introduced from its native range as an ornamental shrub, the way-faring tree is reported as naturalized in 17 states, primarily in the northeast and mid-west. (3)
Ecology and Habitat 
Although the way-faring tree is adaptable in most garden settings, thus far it has only been reported colonizing highly disturbed woodland edges and other habitats greatly altered by man such as old fields. (2)
Reproduction and Phenology 
Although the reproductive potential of the way-faring tree appears to be moderate at best, with under 100 viable seeds produced, on average, per plant, fruit set is often poor or non-existent, as several closely spaced individuals are needed for reliable production. Although self- pollination is possible, this produces far fewer seeds than out crossing.(2) Vectors include birds, small mammals and horticultural trade.
Impacts of this species 

As a relatively newly classified invasive, there has been little research conducted on the ecological impacts of the way-faring tree. A large, adaptable, shade tolerant shrub with the capacity for long distance dispersal, the species is potentially capable of changing both the composition and density of the shrub layer in habitats it invades by out competing other vegetation.  However, evidence of this has not yet been recorded. 

Management Methods 

Biological Control
Although the viburnum leaf beetle will feed and develop on the way-faring tree, a handful of native American viburnums are its preferred host. (4)

Manual or Mechanical Control
Pulling / Digging Up: Pulling by hand as a control method is possible only if plants are young, and under three feet tall. Weed wrenches may be used on larger plants, although way-faring tree can grow to height of over 12 feet. Root fragments have the potential to re-sprout (6)

Mowing: The way-faring tree has the potential to re-sprout from any untreated cut stumps. If pursuing this method of management, cutting must be repeated throughout the growing season as new growth emerges. (6)

Girdling: Not applicable

Prescribed Fire: No information available

Prescribed Grazing: No information available

Soil Tilling: Not applicable

Mulching: Not applicable

Solarization: Not applicable

Hot Foam Spray: Not applicable

Chemical Control
The pesticide application rates and usage herein are recommendations based on research and interviews with land managers.  When considering the use of pesticides, it is your responsibility to fully understand the laws, regulations and best practices required to apply pesticides in a responsible manner.  At times, the pest you seek to treat may not be on a pesticide label, requiring a 2ee exemption from NYSDEC.  Always thoroughly read the label of any pesticide and consult the NYSDEC or a licensed pesticide applicator with questions.

Foliar Spray: A 3.75% solution of glyphosate is best utilized as a foliar spray, however, triclopyr is also effective. When using herbicides, always follow the instructions on the label. (6)

Cut Stump: Cut stump herbicide application is an effective way of managing the way-faring tree. Shrubs should be cut in the fall, prior to fruit set. Apply a 20% solution of glyphosate to the stump to inhibit re-sprouting. (6)

Basal Bark: 25% solution of triclopyr applied July through September (6)


Stem Injection: Not applicable

Pre-Emergent Spray: Not applicable

Summary of Best Managment Practices 

General management overview and recommendation
As with any other invasive infestation, large stands of way-faring tree are best managed via a combination of mechanical and chemical means.  Small seedlings can be hand pulled or sprayed while larger trees must be sprayed, either with a basal bark or cut stump application, to attain good control. All managed infestations should be monitored to ensure exhaustion of the seed bank and to prevent reinvasion from nearby populations. Any new seedlings can be hand pulled or sprayed. 

Post treatment monitoring
Depending on the management method employed, controlled populations should be revisited throughout the growing season to monitor for re-sprouting, especially if mechanical methods such as cutting or pulling are used without herbicide application. Controlled populations known to have produced fruit should be surveilled every growing season to hand pull seedlings. 

Disposal Methods
Waste material can be chipped, burned or composted so long as management was completed prior to fruit set. Any fruit must be bagged and disposed of, and roots thoroughly dried.