Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of Paul Alaback.

Common snowberry

Scientific name
Symphoricarpos albus
Also Known As
Snowberry, White coralberry
Plant Family
The flowers of Common snowberry are pinkish-white and bell shaped. An unusual feature is its hollow stems. Common snowberry is very important as browse for many types of wildlife.
Identification Hints

An unusual feature of common snowberry is its hollow stems. The flowers of common snowberry are pinkish-white and  bell shaped. Creeping snowberry (Symphoricarpos molis) is very similar, however, as its name implies, it is a lower growing shrub with a spreading habit.

Did You Know?

Some groups in the south used the branches of common snowberry to make brooms and hollowed out the twigs to make pipe stems. The hollow stems can also be used as whistles. The berries have been used to settle upset stomachs after too much fatty food. The berries were also used as treatment for burns, rashes, and sores. Common snowberry is very important as a browse for many types of wildlife and livestock. It provides food and shelter for various birds and small mammals. The berries and stems can be mildly toxic to children and even fatal to some animals.

Leaves
The leaves are green, large, opposite. They are divided into five to seven leaflets that are toothed or irregularly lobed. They are leathery and oval-shaped.
Flowers
The flowers are small, white to creamy, with a strong unpleasant odor. The flowers are tiny, pinkish white, bell-shaped and are found in small clusters that resemble parasols. The flowers bloom from mid-May to July.
Fruits
The fruits are roundish, waxy, dull-white berries that become brown and almost blackish. Fruits ripen in August or September.
Bark
The bark is tan-gray to grayish brown and tends to split lengthwise on the older stems.
Habitat
Common snowberry is found along stream banks, in swampy thickets, moist clearings, and open forest at sea level to middle elevations. It tolerates a variety of soil types but thrives in heavy clay soils. It grows well in both shade and sun. Common snowberry inhabits slopes and valley bottoms of the foothills of the Coast Ranges, the Sierra Nevada, and the mountains of southern California. It extends northward to British Columbia and eastward to Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the New England states.
States
AK, CA, CO, CT, 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