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Coralberry and Snowberry Symphoricarpos Species

Coralberry and Snowberry Symphoricarpos Species

Coralberry and Snowberry Symphoricarpos Species

Coralberry, Symphoricarpos orbiculatus, and Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus, are two very closely related small, arching shrubs. Snowberry can grow up to 5 feet tall and coralberry can grow up to 3 feet tall and arch and spread into a nice mound. These plants have small, opposite leaves that are oblong and sometimes have a point on the end of the leaf. The leaves are pubescent, or hairy, on the underside and snowberry leaves are more of a blue-green or gray-green color on the top. The flowers on both species are small and inconspicuous, however on the coralberry they are yellow and on the snowberry they are pink. The fruit, which appears as clusters along the stem, is the reason to plant both coralberry and snowberry. Coralberry produces a small pinkish red berry in October that persists late into the winter months. Snowberry, as the name implies, produces a small white berry in September that persists until November or later.

Species

Symphoricarpos, commonly known as the snowberry, waxberry, or ghostberry, is a small genus of about 15 species of deciduous shrubs in the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae. With the exception of the Chinese coralberry, S. sinensis, which is indigenous to western China, all species are native to North and Central America. The name of the genus is derived from the Ancient Greek words συμφορεá¿–ν (sumphoreîn), meaning "to bear together", and καρπÏŒς (karpós), meaning "fruit". It refers to the closely packed clusters of berries the species produces. Symphoricarpos leaves are 1.5–5 cm (0.59–1.97 in) 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 is conspicuous, 1–2 cm (0.5–1 in) 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 interior looks like fine, sparkling granular snow. The flesh is spongy and contains two 2–5 mm long, whitish stone seeds. The seeds, which contain endosperm and a small embryo, are egg-shaped and more or less flattened. They have a very tough, ha dormant for up to ten years.

The Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) moth, another day-flier, also uses Symphoricarpos species, possibly including Coralberries, as food for its caterpillars. The Hummingbird Clearwing’s caterpillars have a somewhat broader palate, including hawthorns, cherries, plums and some viburnums in addition to the Snowberries.Of the 15 Symphoricarpos species, only one is indigenous to Asia, the rest are native to North and/or Central America. The etymology of the genus alludes to ancient Greek for fruit (karpos) bearing together (sumphorein). These ½-inch diameter, fleshy, berry-like drupes containing two seeds matured back in September. While offering food for various birds and small animals, the lengthy time these fruits ornamentally persist, for our enjoyment, suggest many birds do not have them on their top ten, or perhaps even top-twenty, bulking-up-list pre-migration. (Source: mountauburn.org)

 

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