From The Plant Encyclopedia

Snowberry, Waxberry, Ghostberry, Snowberries, Snow Berry Bush

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Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus

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Category Shrub, Groundcover
Kingdom Plantae
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Angiospermae
Order Dipsacales
Family Caprifoliaceae
Species in this genus
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Aden Earth Zone

3 - 19


  • Cultivation: Naturalizing, Low-Maintenance, Easy-To-Grow
  • Light: Sun, Dappled, Part-Shade
  • Soil: Rich, Mid-Fertility, Poor
  • pH: 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Moisture: Medium


  • Form: Shrub
  • Habit: Deciduous
  • Flower: Small
  • Fruit/Seed: Small, Berry, Pink, Purple, White
  • Foliage: Leaves, Green
  • Uses: Ornamental


Symphoricarpos, with common names in English of Snowberry, Waxberry or Ghostberry, is a small genus of about 15 Species of Deciduous Shrubs in the Honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae. All species are natives of North America and Central America, except one native to western China.


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

Bird food plants

Common Snowberry (S. albus) is an important winter food source for Quail, Pheasant, and Grouse, but is considered poisonous to humans. The berries contain the Isoquinoline Alkaloid Chelidonine, as well as other alkaloids. Ingesting the berries causes mild symptoms of vomiting, dizziness, and slight Sedation in children.

Cultivation and uses

Common snowberry is a popular ornamental shrub in Gardens, grown for its decorative white fruit and Wildlife gardening.


There are two varieties:

  • S. albus var. albus, native to eastern North America
  • S. albus var. laevigatus native to the Pacific coast. It is a larger shrub, up to 2 m-6 feet tall, and with slightly larger fruit. It is treated as a distinct species, Symphoricarpos rivularis, by some Botanists.