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 Symphoricarpos subsp. var.  Coralberry, Snowberry
Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
Habit: shrub
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Features: deciduous
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USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Caprifoliaceae > Symphoricarpos var. ,

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Symphoricarpos is a small genus of about 15 species of deciduous shrubs in the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae. All but one are natives of North America and Central America; the one remaining is from western China. Its common names in English are Snowberry and Waxberry.

The leaves are 1.5–5 cm long, rounded, entire or with one or two lobes at the base. The flowers are small, greenish-white to pink, in small clusters of 5–15 together in most species, solitary or in pairs in some (e.g. S. microphyllus). The fruit are conspicuous, 1–2 cm in diameter, soft, varying from white (e.g. S. albus) to pink (S. microphyllus) to red (S. orbiculatus) and in one species (S. sinensis), blackish purple.

Common Snowberry (S. albus) is an important winter food source for quail, pheasant, and grouse, but is considered poisonous to humans. Ingesting the berries causes mild symptoms of vomiting, dizziness, and slight sedation in children.

Common snowberry is a popular ornamental shrub in gardens, grown for its decorative white fruit. There are two varieties, S. albus var. albus, native to eastern North America, and S. albus var. laevigatus native to the Pacific coast. The latter is a larger shrub, up to 2 m tall, and with slightly larger fruit; it is treated as a distinct species S. rivularis by some botanists.

When the white berries are broken open, the fruit inside looks like fine, sparkling granular snow.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Symphoricarpos (Greek, symphorein, to bear together and karpos, fruit, referring to the clustered fruits). Sometimes spelled Symphoricarpus. Syn., Symphoria. Caprifoliaceae. Snowberry. Ornamental shrubs grown chiefly for their attractive fruits.

Deciduous upright or rarely prostrate shrubs: lvs. opposite, entire, or on vigorous shoots often sinuately dentate or lobed, exstipulate: fls. short-pedicelled, in terminal or axillary clusters or spikes or sometimes solitary; calyx 4-5-toothed; corolla campanulate or tubular, 4-5-lobed; stamens 4-5, included or somewhat exserted, style slender with capitate stigma; ovary with 2 fertile and 2 sterile cells: fr. a 2-seeded berry.—About 15 species in N. Amer., south to Mex. and 1 in W. China; many of the American species are closely related and difficult to distinguish.

The snowberries are low or medium-sized shrubs with slender upright or decumbent stems, spreading more or less by suckers, with small generally oval or ovate leaves and small clustered, rarely solitary, white or pink flowers followed by attractive usually white, rarely pink, dark red or bluish black berries. The flowers are rather insignificant in most species except in S. oreophilus, S. microphyllus and allied species which bear larger tubular nodding flowers and are rather attractive when in bloom. The chief ornamental feature is the fruits which are usually white and retained far into the winter; among the handsomest are S. albus var. laevigatus with heavy clusters of snowy white fruits at the tips of the arching branches, and S. orbiculatus with dark red fruits densely clustered along the slender branches and remaining plump and fresh far into the winter, its foliage also remaining unchanged until severe frost sets in. Some species, as S. albus, S. orbiculatus, and S. occidentalis, are quite hardy North, while S. mollis, S. rotundifolius, and S. oreophilus are hardy as far north as Massachusetts; S. microphyllus is tender. They are excellent plants for borders of shrubberies and for covering the ground under trees, spreading more or less by suckers; they will thrive in almost any soil from heavy clay to dry gravelly banks. Propagation is readily effected by hardwood and by greenwood cuttings, by division, and also by seeds.

S. longiflorus. Gray. Allied to S. oreophilus: lvs. smaller and narrower, acute at both ends: fls. slender, 1/2 in. long; style pubescent. Calif. to Utah and N. Mex.—S. mollis, Gray. Closely allied to S. acutus, but lvs. oval to suborbicular, obtuse. Calif. The plant cult. under this name is usually S. acutus.—S. sinensis, Rehd. Slender glabrous shrub, to 5 ft.: lvs. oval to rhombic-ovate, 1/2 – 1 in. long: fls. in terminal peduncled spikes; corolla campanulate, white: fr. bluish black, bloomy. W. China. Has proved hardy at the Arnold Arboretum.—S. vaccinioides, Rydb. Allied to S. rotundifolius: lvs. elliptic, acute at both ends, puberulous or glabrescent: fls. small. Wash. to Wyo. and Utah.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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