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Published In: Traité des Arbres et Arbustes 2: 295. 1755. (Traité Arbr. Arbust.) Name publication detail

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/11/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 8/4/2009)


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3. Symphoricarpos Duhamel (snowberry)

Plants shrubs, often colonial from rhizomes. First-year twigs 1–3 mm thick, usually short-hairy but often becoming glabrous or nearly so later in the growing season, the pith relatively small, white to tan, often hollow in larger twigs. Winter buds more or less ovate, flattened, with several overlapping scales. Leaves with short, unwinged petioles, none perfoliate. Stipules absent. Leaf blades simple, unlobed or those of the first leaves of the season sometimes varying from undulate to irregularly and bluntly lobed, ovate to oblong or elliptic, the margins otherwise entire. Flowers in dense, small clusters or dense, short spikes or spikelike racemes, these in the axils of the upper leaves and usually also terminal on the branches, the spikes with a pair of small, scalelike bracts at the nodes, these free or fused at the base, ovate to broadly triangular, the individual flowers subtended by a pair of small bractlets, these shorter than to about as long as the ovaries. Calyx lobes 0.5–0.8 mm long, triangular to narrowly triangular. Corollas 3–9 mm long, actinomorphic, bell-shaped with a cup-shaped tube about 2–5 mm long and a spreading, 5-lobed portion 2–9 mm in diameter (measured across the top of the flower), the lobes rounded, pink or greenish and purplish. Style 3–7 mm long. Fruits berrylike drupes, 4–6(–7) mm in diameter, more or less spherical, white to greenish white or pink, red, or purplish red at maturity. Seedlike nutlets (also called pyrenes or stones) 2, 2.5–5.0 mm long, more or less ovate to elliptic in outline, flattened on 1 side and rounded on the other side, the surface smooth or nearly so, white or dull yellow. Nine to 17 species, North America, Asia.

Species of Symphoricarpos often spread by underground runners and form dense colonies in dry, lightly shaded places. Some species are cultivated as ornamentals. The berries are not edible and are said to cause vomiting and diarrhea if eaten in large quantities. Birds will eat them during the winter months, but often not until other food sources have been exhausted.


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1 1. Fruits 3–4 mm in diameter, pink to purple, rarely white; corollas 3–4 mm long, greenish and purplish; styles hairy ... 3. S. ORBICULATUS

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus
2 1. Fruits 5–15 mm in diameter, white (sometimes drying blackish or bluish); corollas 5–9 mm long, pink or pink and white; styles glabrous or nearly so

3 2. Flowers short-stalked; corollas lobed about 1/3 of the way to the base; anthers 1.0–1.5 mm long, not exserted from the corolla ... 1. S. ALBUS

Symphoricarpos albus
4 2. Flowers sessile; corollas lobed about 1/2 of the way to the base; anthers 1.8–2.2 mm long, exserted from the corolla ... 2. S. OCCIDENTALIS Symphoricarpos occidentalis
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