The common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) is a deciduous shrub that produces pink flowers and white fruit. It's a great addition to many types of gardens and is a showy, globe shape for the landscape. Hearty and rather easy to care for, if you plant this shrub, birds are sure to come for a feast upon the drupes.
An important note: All parts of this shrub are poisonous if they are eaten, so consider carefully if you have animals or small children living with you.
- Latin Name: Symphoricarpos albus is the scientific name for this shrub. It is a member of the Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle) family.
- Common Names: This plant is known as the common snowberry, waxberry, ice apple, white coralberry, or just snowberry.
The best USDA zones for the common snowberry are 3 through 7. It originally comes from North America and can tolerate dry or poor soils.
The common snowberry will reach a mature size of 3- to 6-foot tall and wide, creating a rounded shape. A location with full sun to partial shade will provide the best growing conditions.
Foliage, Flowers, and Fruit
The snowberry's light green leaves are ovate, rounded, or elliptical in shape. They measure up to 2 inches long. Clusters of little pink flowers appear at the ends of the branches in late spring to summer.
The shrub gets its various common names from the appearance of the fruit. The drupes—fruit with flesh surrounding a shell, which is often called a pit—turn white by the time they are mature and serve as an attractive feature of this plant.
Use the common snowberry as part of a dry woodland garden. It can handle drought spells as long as the roots have had a chance to anchor themselves deep into the soil. It can also tolerate poor soils where other plants may fail.
Variegata is a cultivar that bears variegated leaves. The horticultural variety of laevigatus also shares this trait.
Birds do like to eat the fruit, so this can be a good shrub choice for a wildlife garden. They may be a nuisance, though, if you want to enjoy the beauty of the white drupes throughout fall and winter.
You can propagate these plants by taking cuttings or germinating the seeds. You'll find it best to scarify the seeds to improve the germination rate. It will also clone itself readily.
Maintenance and Pruning
This shrub likes to produce suckers and can become invasive. You will need to keep a close eye on it and remove them as they appear if you do not want it to spread.
Pests and Diseases
Problems associated with the common snowberry include anthracnose (a general term for leaf disease), berry rot, leaf spot, powdery mildew, and rusts. The larvae of the Vashti sphinx moth (Sphinx vashti) may feed on the leaves.