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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)



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 berry-like fruit which eventually turns 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.


From the Image Gallery

4 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall, often shorter.

Bloom Information

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


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.


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

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Vashti sphinx
(Sphinx vashti)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


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

Find Seed or Plants

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

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

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 Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

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


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

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-28
Research By: TWC Staff

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