Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Common Snowberry - Symphoricarpos albus



Other Uses

Medicinal Uses



General "Erect freely branching shrubs 0.5-2.5 m. tall"[HNW] Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft) by 2 m (6ft).[PFAF] Deciduous.[IFBC-E-flora]
Lifecycle perennial. [WildPNW]
Flowers "Flowers pink or white, bell-shaped." [WildPNW] clustered. [CPPlantsMush] The flowers are hermaphrodite [PFAF]
Fruits "fruits pulpy, white, globose or nearly so, often deformed by crowding". [HNW] "...measure a quarter to a half inch in diameter." [Hart MNT]
Leaves leaf blades not hairy on the underside [PWOBC] Opposite, obtuse at base and tip, glabrous above.[IFBC-Eflora] 2-5 cm (1-2 in.) long [CPPlantsMush]
Stem Stems erect, with stiffbranches. [WildPNW]
Root often densely colonial from rhizomes[IFBC-E-flora]
Habitat "moist to dry forests, shady to open slopes, at low to mid".[WildPNW]
Range "Symphoricarpos albus subsp.laevigatus ...can be found in many places at least as far south as the San Francisco Bay region" [PWOBC] Dry, open woods throughout most of temperate North America.[CPPlantsMush] "Extremely common in S BC, common in C BC, infrequent northward." [IFBC-E-flora] transcontinental North America[IPBC-E-flora]
Status Native.[E-flora]
Similar Species Could be confused with Symphoricarpos hesperius - trailing snowberry [Personal Note]


"...once much used by native Americans."[DPL Watts] The plant was valued for external use because it contains saponins. "These saponins can be toxic, but when applied externally they have a gentle cleansing and healing effect upon the skin, killing body parasites and helping in the healing of wounds." [PFAF]



  • chelidonine - Extracts.[TNS]
  • secologanin.[TNS]
  • aesculin.[TNS]
  • sitosterol.[TNS]
  • saponins.[TNS]
  • tannins.[TNS]
  • terpenes.[TNS]
  • triglycerides.[TNS]
  • sugars.[TNS]
  • coumarins [TNS]
  • flavonoids[TNS]


"Tolerates most soils and conditions, including poor soils and amongst the roots and under the drip of trees[11, 200]." [PFAF]


"Stored seed requires 3 months warm then 5 months cold stratification[98]." "Cuttings of mature wood, 15 - 25cm long preferably with a heel, in a sheltered bed outdoors in winter. High percentage[78, 200]. Division of suckers in winter." [Unspecified][PFAF]


"Shrub. Stem: decumbent to erect, slender. Leaf: simple, deciduous, short-petioled; blade generally elliptic to round, some often ± lobed. Inflorescence: generally raceme, generally ± terminal, generally few-flowered; flower subtended by 2 fused bractlets. Flower: ± radial; hypanthium ± spheric; calyx with 5-toothed, persistent limb; corolla bell-shaped to ± salverform, generally 5-lobed, white or pink, often ± hairy inside; nectary glands [1]5, ± basal; stamens generally included; ovary chambers 4, styles generally included, stigma head-shaped. Fruit: drupe, generally berry-like, white to pink. Seed: 2 (1 per lateral ovary chamber), ± oblong, planoconvex.
± 10 species: North America, 1 in China. (Greek: to bear fruit together, berries borne in clusters)" [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Symphoricarpos albus - common snowberry [E-flora]
  2. Symphoricarpos hesperius - trailing snowberry [E-flora]


1. Stems trailing and rooting at the nodes, the branches rising less than 50 cm................S. hesperius
1. Stems erect, more or less branching, 0.3-3 m tall.
2. Corollas relatively long and narrow, the lobes not more than half the length of the tubes..............S. oreophilus
2. Corollas relatively short and wide, the lobes nearly equalling the tubes.
3. Styles elongate, exserted slightly from the corolla tube, usually long-hairy near the middle.............S. occidentalis
3. Styles short, not exserted from the corolla tube, glabrous.


Page last modified on Monday, March 7, 2022 12:54 PM