Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Notes on Symphoricarpos albus or snowberry

Symphoricarpos albus or snowberry is not a plant that is typically noteworthy in western Washington and across a fair bit of northern Washington simply because it is so common. It is also not particularly showy most of the time. It is sort of the Douglas fir of brush in that it grows and thrives in a wide variety of habitat. Like Douglas fir the plant seems to adjust its growth in accordance to the conditions. It can be short and stubby in harsh sites, legging and open branched in the forest and forms dense thickets in prairie areas.

The one time of year the plant may be showy is October/November. I came across this patch in big leaf maple dominated forest.  

The berries in this patch were thick enough that one could probably pick a quantity; however, they taste rather bad and have a mild toxin. The toxin will break down with cooking, but again the taste would preclude that idea.

Just outside the forest the snowberry had formed a dense thicket.

The thicket as well as the forest at this site is in a place that had formerly been developed for many years and is now drifting to a wild land condition. This particular place has been heavily occupied for at least a few thousand years, so a wild land landscape will be a new era. The snowberry was likely always there and is taking advantage of the opportunity to expand into the former human dominated terrain.

1 comment:

Hollis said...

Beautiful berry display! I know Symphoricarpos albus well, from the Black Hills where it also is common in diverse plant communities. But I see few berries and never that showy.