Symphoricarpos albus snowberry

 Symphoricarpus albus snowberry bush perhaps you more often see this one in municipal or council planting schemes.  I think it deserves a place in the garden, dont eat the poisonous berries though.

From this point, I think we will only refer to this shrub using the common name of Snowberry.

Two of these shrubs have been in our woodland area for as long as I can remember   I have to admit that I seldom pay much attention to them.  Perhaps writing about plants allows me to see them in a new light.

Snowberry is a hardy brute of a shrub and will grow in almost any soil type in full sun or part shade.  Belonging to the Honeysuckle family and mainly grown for its Autumn/Winter interest of outstanding large white berries which start to show in early November continuing through December and even January some years.  The garden birds have a dislike for these berries and I would expect not everyone would see this as an advantage.

Symphoricarpos albus snowberry (4)

The deciduous snowberry shrub also has small white/pink flowers in Spring, and mid green oval leaves. Although I don’t have a picture of the flowers at the moment I will add one to this post in April.

Snowberry is native to North America and can  grow very tall and apparently the berries form in Summer.   Here in the North East of Scotland the much cooler Summer holds back the formation of the berries which have an appealing appearance even when the branches are stripped of their  leaves in December. Snowberry can make a good hedge or feature plant lending itself very well to pruning.

Symphoricarpos albus snowberry (3)

In late Winter thin back the shrub by cutting out old stems and reduce theheight of the rest virtually to suit yourself.  If you wish to rejuvenate an old shrub simply cut the shrub hard back.

Even in the UK in some areas Snowberry can run wild.  It behaves itself very well here in our garden.

*** Form with pink berries ***



We tend to feed the garden birds all year round.  In Spring the adults have a tough time finding food for their young and welcome nutrition that we provide for them.  However in Winter they really do depend on us.

Our feeding stations are thronging with numerous species at the moment, even busier than usual, why should this be.  Well apart from the sunflower hearts which they like more than anything else we would also hang up those fatty balls and squares that you see in the garden centres.  More often than not these would be fatty treats just hung there, completely ignored.

A couple of weeks ago Myra decided she would make her own ones.  Melting a reasonable amount of lard (yes its still in the stores) also adding peanut kernels, sunflower hearts, weetabix and raisins she moulded them into shape and placed them in the fridge.   I hung them out the following morning, this will now have to be a permanent addition to the feeding regime, they just love it.

Within several hours we had the first visit of the Winter of two species we had been waiting for.  The long tailed tit was first.  They visit most Winters in groups of at least eight and hang around until early Spring.

Long Tailed Tit (2)

Long Tailed Tit

Even more interesting is the return of the Greater Spotted Woodpecker which in the past was an infrequent visitor, dropping by for a very short time.  Now it flits between the feeders calling  several times every day.

Greater Spotted Woodpecker (2)

Greater Spotted Woodpecker (8)

I will talk to you again in January.  I hope you all have a great Christmas and go easy on the booze at Hogmany.

If you happen to leave a comment I will be sure to visit your site and do the same

© 2012 – 2015, Alistair. All rights reserved.

30 thoughts on “Symphoricarpos albus snowberry

  1. Hello Alistair
    What an excellent idea for your wife to make the birds a home-made treat. No wonder they liked it better than the store-bought versions! It actually sounded quite delicious.
    I was not familiar with Snowberry but it sounds like a strong indestructible shrub that would blend well in a shrub border. I’ll add it to my list.
    Hope your Scottish Christmas is as festive as our Canadian one and I look forward to your posts again in 2013.

  2. It’s always a treat to visit your blog Alistair, I can be sure to find something I haven’t seen before and I wasn’t disappointed today either; I haven’t seen Snowberry bush before, what a lovely plant to light up with berries in the midst of winter.

    Lovely to see your birds returning, I haven’t had much luck in my garden, the squirrels eat the bird food before the birds can get to it, and the massive amount of wood pigeons I have seem to scare away all the smaller type of birds.

    Have a nice Christmas, hope you get a white Christmas and don’t get flooded, we will certainly not have a white one!

    1. Helene, the Squirrel visits here every day also, no problem though seems like he is all alone at the moment. It doesn’t look like we will have a white Christmas in the city, maybe a few miles inland though. Look after yourself and have a great Christmas, talk again in the New Year.

  3. I’m familiar with Snowberry down here in Edinburgh Alistair. A neighbour has it in her garden and I find it sends out runners under the fence. Easily removed though!!
    Those berries do look great at this time of the year – I wasn’t aware that the birds don’t feed on them – thanks for enlightening me 🙂
    I’m pleased to see your visitors are making return visits. If your OH doesn’t mind I might give her recipe a go.
    I hope you aren’t getting too bad a time of it with the weather.
    Hope you and your family have a great christmas 🙂

    1. Angie, OH wont mind. The weather here in the city has been more miserable than severe, more serious conditions not so very far away though. Christmas wishes to you and your family also.

  4. Love the snow berries. Hope Myra labels those feeder balls before putting them in the fridge to prevent a breakfast mishap. Mind you, they probably work great as a hang-over cure.

    Happy Christmas Alastair & Myra!

    1. b-a-g, if you were to check out some of Myra’s lunch time recipes you may well choose the fatty balls as a treat. Happy Christmas to you also b-a-g, hope 2013 holds some good things for you.

  5. Hi Alistair, I used to have a snowberry, but I did not locate it well and too much shade lead to its demise. I love those white berries and would love to get another plant and situate it much better. Thanks for the reminder of what a pretty winter bush it is. I hope that you have a lovely Christmas. All the best for the new year to you and your family!

  6. As this is a beautiful native shrub here, you will find that there will be no berries left by winter as the small mammals and birds devour the berries…your birds have not found a taste for them 🙂 Tell Myra I love her idea and have been trying to figure a way to make treats but keep them from the squirrels who make pigs of themselves…so I will get a few cage feeders and make my own for next winters birds…or I will at least put it on my list. Have a very Happy Christmas.

    1. Donna, that is interesting that your birds eat these berries, they must be over fussy in our parts. Our lone squirrel does have a go at getting to Myra’s treats. A very happy Christmas to you also.

  7. I planted snowberry’s cousin, coralberry, just a year ago. It is very similar and is a native here. It has pinkish-purple berries. I hope mine grows and looks as good as your snowberries one day!

    I wish you the best in the coming year and a very Merry Christmas!

  8. Although I love snowberry, and have certainly used it in lots of floral arrangements over the years, I find the shrub runs in my garden. A boundary hedge, that was planted years before we moved into Kilbourne Grove, has marched over 20 feet away from the fence line. Must hack it back this spring.
    A very Merry Christmas to you and yours and all the best for 2013.

  9. I don’t know snowberry, so I’m wondering if it would take our heat. So many things don’t. For instance, I tried to make some bird treats similar to Myra’s one year – but it’s so warm here, it just melted! :O Have a very Merry Christmas!

  10. Alistair, so interesting to see you feature this plant. I very much take it for granted here, as it grows wild all over our property. It’s native to this part of the Central California coast. We have both forms here, the upright form you have here, and the ‘creeping snowberry’ Symphoricarpos mollis. It’s not always the tidiest plant, but growing in the woodland understorey, it is a very durable, carefree plant, and love seeing the beautiful berries this time of year.

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

  11. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I live in the South/USA and to see what you can grow that we can’t even think of growing makes me mighty envious. But it is most enjoyable and I follow you as often as possible. Thanks!

  12. And you have real snow too! But I agree the snowberry is useful, very native here, growing in woods and along roads, and I have planted it in my wilder garden area as well. I’m so impressed with Myra’s homemade bird treats! We made dog cookies for Max this Christmas– he loves them too. Sometimes we forget that all these things are possible to mix up at home. Next fall, hard cider! Happy new year to you and Myra!

  13. Love that snowberry. Next week my husband will put the Christmas tree outside and I’ll decorate it with treats for the birds.
    Thank you for a great year of postings. Love visiting your blog. Wishing you and Myra a Happy New Year! P. x

  14. Snowberry appears all around my neighborhood. I used to like to squish the berries as I walked to school. I can’t say I like the shrub very much. It’s rather awkward. One appeared on the bank behind my house. I have let it be, since I can’t really see it, except when I park the car. But in planning a native garden for the new house, I have left it off the list. Thanks for your comment on the Portland Japanese Garden. Sad to say, the Seattle Japanese Garden is closed in winter.

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