Viburnum prunifolium L.

Last updated: 16 Feb 2017

Scientific Name

Viburnum prunifolium L.


Viburnum prunifolium var. prunifolium. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Black haw, sloe, stag bush, sloe-leaved, viburnum. [2]

Geographical Distributions

Viburnum prunifolium is distributed over North and South America, Europe, and Asia. [2]

Botanical Description

V. prunifolium is a member of Adoxaceae family. [1]

Ranging from 3-10 m in height, the plant becomes larger and more tree-like. As a tree, V. prunifolium is crooked and stout with branches that spread wide. [2]

The leaves are about 2 inches long, nearly as wide, roundish-ovate, smooth, shining above, obtuse at both ends, acutely serrate, with uncinate teeth, and situated on short petioles, slightly margined with straight, narrow wings. [2]

The flowers are white, in large, terminal, sessile cymes. [2]

The fruit consists of ovoid-oblong, sweet, edible, blackish berries. It contains a single stony nut. [2]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

Aquoeus extract of V. prunifolium bark has been reported to contain trimesic acid, benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxylic acid, and 1-methyl 2,3-dibutyl hemimellitate. [3]

V. prunifolium has been reported to contain iridoid glucosides. [4]

V. prunifolium has been reported to contain coumarin glycosides, amentoflavon, oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, scopoletin, aesculetin, scoplin, chlorogenic acid, isochlorogenic acid, salicylic acid, salicin, and tannin. [5][6]

Plant Part Used

Bark and root. [7]

Traditional Use

The root bark of V. prunifolium has been used by several tribes, including the Delaware and Micmac tribes, to strengthen the reproductive organs. [8]

V. prunifolium was used by some tribes as a treatment during pregnancy to bring the fetus to full term and was reported to reduce the risk of miscarriage dramatically. [9]

In addition to promoting safe gestations, V. prunifolium has been used as a uterine relaxant, relieving many of the painful symptoms associated with menstruation. [10]

Additionally, the Cherokee found alternative uses for V. prunifolium. As a diaphoretic, a root infusion has been used to reduce fever and induce perspiration. The Cherokee also use the plant to treat smallpox and as a mouthwash to relieve the pain of a sore tongue. [8]

Preclinical Data


Sedative activity

V. prunifolium has been reported to exhibit relaxant effect identifying the iridioids as the chemical constituent most likely to be responsible for the action in laboratory animal models. [11]

Antioxidant activity

V. prunifolium crude bark extract has been examined and found to demonstrate antioxidant activity. [12]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


Dosage Range

Infusions, decoctions and extracts are commonly used with a total daily dosage of the bark of 4 g. [10]

Liquid bark extract used 8 mL per day. [10]

Most Common Dosage

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Viburnum prunifolium L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Apr 18; cited 2017 Feb 16]. Available from:
  2. Henriette’s Herbal Homepage. Viburnum prunifolium (U.S.P.) - Black haw. [homeage on the Internet]. c1995-2017 [cited 2017 Feb 16]. Available from:
  3. Jarboe CH, Zirvi KA, Schmidt CM, McLafferty FW, Haddon WF. 1-methyl 2,3-dibutyl hemimellitate. A novel component of Viburnum prunifolium. J Org Chem. 1969;34(12):4202-4203.
  4. Tomassini L, Cometa FM, Foddai S, Nicoletti M. Iridoid glucosides from Viburnum prunifolium. Planta Med. 1999;65(2):195.
  5. Thomson Healthcare. PDR for herbal medicines. Montvale, New Jersey: Thomson Healthcare Inc; 2007.
  6. Lewis WH, Elvin-Lewis MPF. Medical botany: Plants affecting man’s health. New York: Wiley-Interscience Publications, 1977; p. 20, 276.
  7. Wichtl M, editor. Herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals: A handbook for practice on a scientific basis. Stuttgart: CRC Press; 1993.
  8. Moerman DE. Native American ethnobotany. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press; 2009.
  9. Chichoke A. Secrets of Native American herbal remedies. New York: Penguin Putnam; 2001.
  10. Duke JA. The green pharmacy herbal handbook. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Inc; 2000.
  11. Pilcher D, Delzell WR, Burman GE. The action of various “female” remedies on the excised uterus of the guinea-pig. JAMA. 1916;47:490-492.
  12. Evans WE, Harne WG, Krantz JC. A uterine principle from Viburnum prunifolium. J Pharmacol. 1942;75:174-177.