Viburnum tinus

The lauristinus (Viburnum tinus) is a large shrub from Caprifoliaceae family reaching 4 meters in height.

The stems are initially reddish, pubescent and flexible when young, then they turn green and further on grey while they lose the furriness and harden. The leaves emerge opposite in pairs that alternate 90º in next level on the branch; as a result, the leaves arrange in 4 rows (4th photo). These leaves are perennial. The blade is entire, broadly ovate, up to 10 cm long with a subacute tip and the petiole measures about 1 cm. The blade is thick and moderately stiff, shiny, and hairless on top layer, but the margin contains light hairs that can be seen against the light. This model of flat, wide, stiff and perennial leaves that is characteristic of the lauristinus, the laurel, the strawberry tree and other shrubs and trees is named laurophyll; it is successful in areas of humid without unfavourable seasons climate.

The lauristinus starts blooming in winter. It forms 3-8 cm in diameter, hemispherical and compact inflorescences in corymb, everyone having many nice but odourless white flowers. These flowers have a minute calyx as a crown with 5 points, a bell-shaped corolla of radiate symmetry opening in 5 rounded petals of white coloron the inside and with a maroon hue on the outside, 5 white stamens that alternate their position with the petals and protrude from the corolla tube, and a pistil with an ovary and stigma but without a long style. The buds of the new inflorescences usually coincide with the last fruits of the previous season (photo 3). The fruit is an ellipsoidal drupe of 6-8 mm, of a dark metallic violet color.

The lauristinus lives under the dense shade of the holm oaks and in full light in the maquis, in the coastal and pre-coastal regions of Catalonia, including the Bages district, where it is much more frequent in its southern half. In the localities where it appears, it is usually abundant. On the other hand, it is not in the continental lands with of extreme temperatures and lower rainfall, neither at higher altitudes. In the Moianès district, the lauristinus is very rare. Cold in winter limits the distribution of lauristinus towards the inland in Catalonia. Likely, the distribution of lauristinus will go forward to the inland through the Llobregat valley after the global warming. Lauristinus is also a popular garden plant.

The lauristinus sprouts after a forests fire. Therefore, sometimes it becomes dominant in areas that have suffered recurrent fires. In periods of drought, the lauristinus shows a decayed appearance with the leaves hanging, although without drying out or falling. The physiological state of the lauristinus indicates where local storms have mitigated the summer drought.

The lauristinus is a relative of the lantana (Viburnum lantana), a deciduous shrub that lives in oak groves.

[photos Jordi Badia (1st , 2nd and 3rd) and Florenci Vallès (4th)]