categoryZShrubs Shrubs List 
categoryZDeciduous Deciduous List 
categoryZBrooadleaf Broadleaf List 

SNOWBERRY

Symphoricarpos albus

Honeysuckle Family [Caprifoliaceae]

Flowers:
month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

Berries: berryZpossible        berryZwhite  (mildly poisonous)
berry8oct berry8nov berry8dec

category
category8Shrubs
category
category8Deciduous
category
category8Broadleaf
status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8bicolour
flower
flower8pink flower8red
inner
inner8white
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZbell
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZmedium

13th Aug 2007, Chesterfield Canal, Kiveton Bridge, South Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
Suckering; The only snowberry which suckers with underground rhizomes.


6th Aug 2004, Edale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves a glaucous green. Stems woody, thin and wiry.


18th Aug 2005, Waters Meet, Bridgewater Canal, M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Produces drooping stems some with pink flowers and white berries on.


19th Aug 2010, St. Annes on Sea, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
The underside of the leaves is a lighter green, possibly with very short hairs. You cannot normally see inside the drooping flowers without looking upwards.


7th Aug 2008, Etherow Valley, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Leaves glaucous green. A flower poised ready to open at the end. The rest have lost their flowers and are bulging into berries.


11th Aug 2015, Leeds & L/pool canal, Parbold, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Leaves in opposite pairs and reddish around the periphery.


7th Aug 2008, Etherow Valley, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are smallish, bell-shaped and a reddish-pink with white frills.


7th Aug 2008, Etherow Valley, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Five petalled flowers with yellow anthers turning brown. The inner surface of the petals is white.


19th Aug 2010, St. Annes on Sea, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
The flower has many white hairs within obscuring the depths. Anthers yellow to brown. View looking upwards.


15th May 2011, Lancaster Canal, Kendal, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Five anthers hiding amidst the mass of hairs within the flower.


11th Aug 2015, Leeds & L/pool canal, Parbold, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The anthers amidst the mass of white hairs within the flower.


7th Aug 2008, Etherow Valley, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The berries are totally white, distinguishing it from the similar totally pink Coralberry or the half-pink/half-white Pink Snowberry.


17th Aug 2007, Cromford Canal, Whatstandwell, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are always un-toothed, but shape can vary. Stems brown.


Not to be confused with : Snowdrop nor with Snowflake, Snow-in-Summer, Snowy Mespil or Snowy Wood-Rush [plants with similar names]

Hybridises with : Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) (which has all pink berries) to produce Chenault's Coralberry aka Pink Snowberry (Symphoricarpos × chenaultii) which has berries that are white on the shaded side and pink on the sunlit side.

In addition, there is a double-hybrid: one between Chenault's Coralberry which is already a hybrid (see above) and Snowberry. This double hybrid is called Doorenbos' Coralberry (Symphoricarpos albus × chenaultii). This continuous spectrum is called 'Doorenbos Hybrids' to gardeners.

Many similarities to : Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) but that has all pink berries and to the hybrid between Sowberry and Coralberry which is called Chenault's Coralberry (Symphoricarpos × chenaulti) which have berries that are pink on one side only as opposed to the all-white berries of Snowberry. Of those three Snowberry has the longest leaves [2-6mm (8mm)], Chenault's Coralberry medium sized leaves [2 - 2.5cm long] and Coralberry the shortest leaves [1-2cm long].

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The marble-sized white berry and the small pink bell-shaped flowers.

It is non-native, a neophyte, which spreads readily by means of suckers and although it fruits easily the seeds rarely germinate. It displaces native species by forming thick and dense thickets through which little or no light permeates to ground level. The berries are eaten by birds but are poisonous to humans.

It is widely planted for hedging in urban areas and suburbs from where it can spread into any woodland areas, scrub, waste ground or along hedgerows, naturalising itself.


Snowberry is poisonous, containing saponins and traces of Chelidonine but so low as to not be the cause of the toxicity of the berries of Snowberry. Other compounds present include Secologanin, Aesculin, Sitosterol saponins, and various other compounds, but the toxic component has not been identified. It seems likely that the toxicity is due to the saponins. Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pains and sleepiness. The sap can cause skin irritation.

Secologanin is a  Secoiridoid Glycoside as is Loganin with a broken ring (the seco meaning it has a broken ring) and is an intermediate in the biosynthesis of both Indole and Ipecac alkaloids within plants. [Ipecac alkaloids include Cephaeline and Emetine].


  Symphoricarpos albus  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Caprifoliaceae  

Distribution
 family8Honeysuckle family8Caprifoliaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Symphoricarpos
Symphoricarpos
(Snowberries)

SNOWBERRY

Symphoricarpos albus

Honeysuckle Family [Caprifoliaceae]

WildFlowerFinder Homepage