Symphoricarpos albus - common snowberry

Family: Caprifoliaceae
Wetland Indictor Status: FACU
The common snowberry shrub can be 1-2 m tall

 Fruits can come in dense clusters or singly.

 The Snowberry blooms from May until August


General Species Description

The snowberry is a nearly prostrate to erect shrub with simple, entire to toothed or lobed, opposite, leaves.  A deciduous shrub, the common snowberry is generally 1-2 meters tall.  Twigs are very narrow and brittle.  They generally branch to form a "T" 


Leaves are round to elliptic, opposite, with widely variable margins.  1.5-5 cm long, and 1-3.5 cm wide.  


Flowers are small and 5-7 mm long.  They are pink to pinkish white in color.  Flowers come in terminal or axillary racemes or spikes.  The common snowberry can bloom from May until August. 


The fruits on this plant are fleshy, white, and round and have two nutlets within.  They are on average 6-14 mm wide.  They can come singly or in clusters.


The common snowberry can be found more commonly in deciduous forests than coniferous woods.  Thickets, woodlands, and open slopes are all ideal spots for this plant to live.  The ability to tolerate fluctuating water tables makes this shrub versatile in its ability to find a place to live.  It is a common component of the under story in many northwest forests, and thrives in areas near openings where light is more available. 


From lowlands to moderate elevations.  Southeast Alaska to Quebec, south to California, central Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, and Virginia.

Similar Species

Douglas spirea (Spiraea douglasii) has larger twigs that are knobby and shiny reddish, and alternate leaves.  Black Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata) also has yellow-silver-tan bark and opposite leaves, but twigs are bright green and ridged, bark sheds in strips, leaves are long and lance-shaped, and fruits are purple berries.

Ecological Value

Fruit are a valuable food source for many bird species and the fruit can hang on the shrub through out the winter providing a winter food source.  The twigs and foliage are valuable to grazers such as deer.

Human Value

Ornamental.  The white insipid berries are edible raw or cooked.


Cooke, S. S., ed. 1997. A Field Guide to the Common Wetland Plants of Western Washington & Northwest Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society and Washington Native Plant Society. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle WA, 54pp.
Hitchcock, C. L. and A. Cronquist. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. University of
Washington Press, Seattle WA.

Kirk, D. R. 1975. Wild Edible Plants of Western North America.  Naturegraph Publishers, Inc., Happy Camp, Ca, 129pp.

This page was created by:  Mike Houston

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