small white flowers of a wayfaring tree
Wayfaring tree

Species Name: Viburnum lantana

The wayfaring tree is a small scrub tree with large flower heads often used as ornamental pieces in gardens. They are naturally found in hedgerows and woodland edges.

How to Identify
Trunk & leaves -
The wayfaring tree grows up to 6m and has grey-brown bark that becomes fissured as they mature. The buds are in opposite pairs on a red-brown stem with a white coating. The buds themselves resemble velvety fawn ears in a mustard to grey colour and either lie close to the stem or spread away from it. It has large oval leaves with a round-toothed edge.
green leaves of a wayfaring tree
Flowers -
The flowers form a dome of small, creamy white, tubular flowers known as an umbel.
Little white wayfaring flowers
Fruit -
The wayfaring tree produces groups of oval, flat, red berries in late summer that turn black as they ripen. The berries are poisonous to humans.
Red wayfaring berries
Where to find...

The wayfaring tree is native to southern and central Europe - including the UK. Mainly found in South East England, it prefers chalk soils, and can be found in the Forest in woodland edges, hedgerows and scrub.

Mythology & symbolism...

The wayfaring tree was named by herbalist John Gerard, who noticed them along paths between Wiltshire and London in the late 1500's. They became associated with being on or near a path, preventing travellers from getting lost.

Uses for this tree...

The wayfaring tree has strong flexible stems that were traditionally used to tie hay bales and make arrows.

The wayfaring tree's value:

The umbel flowers attract many insects in May and June, providing an important source of pollen and nectar. In the autumn, the red and black berries are a food source for birds and small mammals.
Did you know?

The wayfaring tree branches are also known as ‘twistwood’ as they used to be twisted into whip handles.

2% of the trees we are planting in the Forest this season are wayfaring trees.

wayfaring tree with white flowers