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Symphoricarpos albus (Common snowberry)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Symphoricarpos albus

Symphoricarpos albus (L.) S.F. Blake

Common snowberry

Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: SYAL

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N)

A sparsely branched shrub 2-5 ft. tall, gradually forming a thicket 4-6 ft. wide. The slender, wiry twigs bear small, opposite leaves and inconspicuous flower clusters followed by large, snow white berries which eventually turn brown. This hollow-stemmed shrub has tiny, pinkish-white, bell- shaped flowers in small terminal or axillary clusters.

This plant was once popular in old-fashioned dooryard gardens; variety laevigatus of this shrub is also cultivated. Two other species are often encountered: Coralberry (S. orbiculatus), with sessile, axillary, purplish-green flowers and showy clusters of pink berries; and Wolfberry (S. occidentalis) a dry prairie shrub with pale pink flowers, leathery, oval leaves, and greenish-white fruit.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Amber
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul

Distribution

USA: AK , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , IA , ID , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , SD , TN , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK , YT
Native Distribution: Que. to AK, scattered southward to MA, WV, WI, n.e. IA, CO & CA
Native Habitat: Wooded hillsides; rocky, open slopes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Infertile sands and gravels.
Conditions Comments: Anthracnose, rusts, powdery mildews and berry rot can be frequent problems. Var. albus is the easterly variety; var. laevigatus is a more erect, western plant.

Benefit

Use Wildlife: Songbirds, gamebirds, small mammals and browsers use this plant for food, cover, and nesting sites.
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Berries. Low toxicity if eaten. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea. Toxic Principle: Calcium oxalate and possibly saponic glycoside. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Propagation

Description: Snowberry starts easily from suckers or offshoots; cuttings may also work well. Seeds need to be treated.
Seed Collection: Fruits can be collected anytime druing the fall and winter by stripping or flailing onto drop cloths. Seeds can be extracted by macerating the fruits in water.
Seed Treatment: Seeds sown in fall require warm stratification (80 degrees for 90-120 days). Spring sown seeds need an additional cold stratification (41 degrees for 4-6 months).
Commercially Avail: yes

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Symphoricarpos albus is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Vashti sphinx
(Sphinx vashti)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native shrub to replace non-native azaleas.
February 10, 2009
I want to replace my two dozen azaleas this spring (I think they're unattractive once the flowers fall off). I like the multiseason characteristics of weigela (midnight wine, W&R), but want to go na...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACU FACU FACU FACU UPL FACU FACU FACU
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Bibliography

Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Symphoricarpos albus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Symphoricarpos albus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Symphoricarpos albus

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2010-04-25
Research By: TWC Staff

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