Viburnum bark

Viburnum bark

Viburnum bark

Specification & Spread

Viburnum bark — cortex viburni
Common viburnum — Viburnum opulus L.
Honeysuckle family — Caprifoliaceae

It is a branchy shrub or small tree 2-4 m tall. The bark is grayish-brown.
The leaves are opposite, broadly ovate or round in shape. Besides, it is 3-5 lobed and coarsely toothed along the edge. The flowers are pentamerous and white in colour. On the tops of young branches it is situated in corymbose inflorescences. In the inflorescence the marginal flowers are barren, with a wheel-like corolla 1-2.5 cm in diameter. The median ones are fertile, bell-shaped, bisexual, fragrant and about 0.5 cm in diameter. The fruit is a spherical bright red drupe up to 1 cm in diameter with a flat stone.

It blooms from May to July and bears fruit in August – September.

Spreading. It is one of Euro-Siberian species. It is spread in the middle belt of the European part of the country, in the Middle and Southern Urals, in the south of Western and Middle Siberia and in the Caucasus. In parks and gardens it is bred  as an ornamental, food and medicinal plant.

Habitat. It grows in the undergrowth and along the edges of sufficiently wetted deciduous and mixed forests, in the thickets of shrubs, along ravines, river banks, lakes and the outskirts of marshes.


Viburnum bark contains:

  • vitamin K1,
  • carbohydrates,
  • essential oil,
  • iridoid glycosides (3-6%),
  • flavonoids,
  • tannins,
  • tar,
  • chlorogenic, neoclorogenic, caffeic, ursolic, oleanolic and isovaleric acids,
  • phytosterol,
  • saponins,
  • alkaloids.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The bark is harvested in early spring, during the sap flow, before budbreak and when it is easily separated from the wood. The side branches are cut with knives, then at a distance of 20-25 cm from each other half-ring cuts are made which are connected with two longitudinal cuts. The resulting strip of bark is carefully separated towards the lower incision.

Security measures. It is forbidden to harvest bark from the main stock and cutting off all branches, as this leads to the death of the plant. Viburnum grows slowly. The repeated harvesting of the raw materials is allowed only after 10 years. Due to the development and drainage of river floodplains, large bark blanks, fruits, active and permanent breakdown of fruit-bearing branches, cranberry resources are gradually decreasing.

Drying. The bark is dried, then it is dried in a dryer at a temperature of 50-60 ºС or under sheds in the shade and in well-ventilated areas. When drying, the raw materials are inverted from time to time and ensure that pieces of bark are not put one into the other, as this leads to their mold and rotting. When the crust breaks down when bent with a bang, drying is considered complete.

Storage. The raw materials are stored in a dry and dark place.

Whole raw materials

It is tubular, valleculate or flat pieces of bark. It is about 2 mm thick and has various lengths.
The outer surface of the bark is wrinkled, brownish-grey or greenish-grey with small lentils. The inner surface is smooth, light or brownish-yellow and has small reddish specks and stripes.
The fracture of the bark is fine-grained. The smell is weak. The taste is bitter and astringent.

Milled raw materials

The pieces of bark have various shapes passing through a sieve with 7 mm diameter holes.
The colour is brownish grey, greenish grey and brownish yellow.
The smell is weak. The taste is bitter and astringent.

Properties and application

Pharmacotherapeutic group. Hemostatic agent.

The pharmacological properties of viburnum bark

The extract and decoction of viburnum bark:

  • accelerate the process of blood clotting,
  • reduce the duration of bleeding,
  • reduce the amount of blood loss,
  • increase the content of platelets in the peripheral blood.

In addition, the sum of the active ingredients of viburnum:

  • inhibits fibrinolysis by blockade of plasminogen and partial inactivation of fibrinolysin.

In the study of preparations from the leaves and flowers of viburnum, there was found:

  • hemostatic activity similar to that of bark preparations.

The preparations of common viburnum bark:

  • strengthen the tone of the muscles of the uterus and
  • have a vasoconstrictor effect.

This action is associated with the iridoid complex.
When tannins of cranberry bark are introduced into the stomach, it denatures proteins that cover the mucous membranes, forms a protective film that protects the stomach from irritation, reduces the inflammatory response. In the experiment, the decoction of cranberry bark has:

  • antitoxic action and
  • gives anticonvulsant effect.

The experiments have also revealed:

  • hypocholesterolemic effect of extracts from viburnum bark, introduced with food, due to phytosterols, as well as diuretic and cardiotonic action.

Application of viburnum bark

The preparations of viburnum bark is used as a styptic:

  • in the postpartum period,
  • with uterine bleeding on the basis of gynecological diseases,
  • with painful and heavy menstruation,
  • with nasal and pulmonary bleeding,
  • with pulmonary tuberculosis.

It is also used for rinsing the mouth with:

  • angina,
  • chronic tonsillitis,
  • stomatitis and periodontal disease.

It is contradicted with increased blood clotting, tendency to thrombosis, gout, urolithiasis, thrombophlebitis, arthritis, hypotension.