|Symphoricarpos oreophilus Gray
by Brian McGinness, Native Plants Class 2003
Common names: mountain snowberry, Utah snowberry
Synonymy: Symphoricarpos utahensis Rydb.
Etymology: Symphorein is Greek for “borne together” and carpos means fruit. Fruit born together, probably referring to clustered fruit. Oreophilus is Greek for “mountain loving”. (4)
Growth form: Perennial shrub, 1-5’ high, deciduous. Slightly arching stature. Rhizomatous. (1, 3)
Roots: Perennial root structure.
Stem: Grayish, smooth. (1)
Leaves: Oval and opposite, pale green. (3)
Inflorescence/flowers: White to pink with 5 lobes, tubular shape. (1, 3)
Fruit: White berry-like drupes containing two nutlets, each containing one seed. May persist on plant for up to two seasons. (1, 2, 3) Seeds depend on animals for dispersal and stratify in the soil over the course of one to two winters. (3)
Similar species: Symphoricarpos rotundifolia
Life history: Perennial, long-lived, deciduous.
Native/introduced: Native in the west from Alberta to northern Mexico. (2, 3)
Photosynthetic pathway: C3
Phenology: Begins growing in early spring, sometimes before snowmelt, with most growth occurring between June and August. Flowers through summer, producing fruit into fall. (3)
Distribution: Found from pinyon-juniper woodland through to spruce-fir forest. Common in the ponderosa pine forest in moist canyons. (1, 3)
Early leaf production makes for early livestock and wild browser forage. The white fruits are a source of food to birds. (1, 3)
Epple, Ann Orth. A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona. 1995. The Globe Pequot Press.
NRCS Plants Database. http://plants.usda.gov
USDA Forest Service, Fire Effects Information Service. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/shrub/symore/index.html
Charters, Michael L. California Plant Names, Word Meanings and Name Derivations. www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/http