First coppiced bark harvest from Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)


This small tree, or shrub, has opposite leaves and its growth habit tends to be multi-stemmed, forking towards the end of branches as flowering terminal buds are used up. So the plant has quite a bushy appearance with, after 5 years, many stems. It enjoys a moist woodland location. Sometimes it is called Guelder Rose or Snowball Tree, but these names should only be used for the ornamental variety which has sterile round-shaped heads of flowers. In April I harvested stems of Cramp Bark about 20 cm up from the ground. After removing leaves and soft growth branching off the main stems I could readily pare off the bark in short sections from stems at least pencil size thick. The leaf and soft growth can be composted or make an ideal mulch to suppress weeds.The harvested bark was dried in a single layer on trays in the dark in an airing cupboard for about 4 weeks till crisply dry. It was then passed through several grinder screens in a heavy duty grinder (see pictures). The resulting fine, brown powder will be used in filling capsules or for percolation as a tincture. The plants that have been coppiced will recover and be harvestable again within 3 to 5 years.