Each cluster of flowers, and then the fruit that follows, is
arranged in a cyme. There are 5 cymes here. It was a broad,
flat-topped flower cluster and is now a broad, flat fruit
Above: One of the cymes, outlined. Arrow points to the area
that distinguishes a cyme from another broad, flat-topped flower
form, the umbel.
Below: The center flower of a cyme, and the center fruit of
a cyme, matures first. In an embel the center buds mature
Below: So the birds are plucking the center fruits from each
viburnum cyme, first.
Not all of the Viburnum species have flowers in
cymes, but many do. Below, Viburnum opulus, the European
cranberrybush viburnum. Its fruits ripen from green to coral to red
and hang on the plant through winter before the birds deem them
ready to eat. Then, all are ready at the same time.