Viburnum tinus (Laurestine) is an evergreen bright green shrub. It is tall (up to 5 m), erect, with large leaves (the leaves reach a length of 8 cm) and white flowers in dense umbels. The leaves are simple, opposite, pilose, with an entire margin. Rarely the margin is delicately dentate, and is somewhat rolled back.
Laurestine is a rare plant, and grows in thickets of Maquis in the Carmel and in a few places in the Galilee: Hevel Tefen, Mount Meron. It behaves differently in the shade and in sunlight: in full sunlight it appears with denser, dark green and leathery leaves; in the shade of thickets (which is its main habitat), the leaves are spaced, light green and soft.
Laurestine blooms in the spring. The individual flower is single, small, with a diameter of 7 mm. The calyx is tiny. The flower is crimson when it is still a bud, and white when open. It has 5 stamens, 3 sessile stigmata. The corolla is cylindrical, with a short tube and wide limb. Dozens of flowers are arranged together in white umbels. The peripheral flowers of the umbel are usually larger, asymmetrical, and sterile. The bloom is rich, covers the entire shrub, and emits a pleasant fragrance. The fruit is a black ovate single-seed berry.
Its global distribution spreads over several Mediterranean countries.
The genus includes 200 species that grow in forests in most of the continents.
Laurestine also serves as a domesticated ornamental plant. Its relative the Elderberry is also used as a domesticated plant. It differs from Laurestine in its pinnate leaves. Black Elderberry grows here and there in Israel as a plant that has escaped domestication.
Written by Mike Livne