Symphoricarpos oreophilus
(Mountain Snowberry)

Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Family Description:
Key Characteristics:

Erect, branching shrub to 1.5 m tall with opposite, deciduous leaves; white berries; twigs and leaves may be pubescent or glabrous

  • opposite, elliptic-elliptic-ovate, varying from 1-5 cm long (even larger in shade forms), 5-25 mm wide.
  • Petioles 1-4 mm long
  • borne on short, drooping pedicels in upper leaf axils corolla is elongate-campanulate,
  • 7-10 mm long, with lobes 1/4-1/2 the length of the corolla tube
  • stamens are inserted on the corolla tube
  • beneath the insertion point of the stamens, the corolla is usually hairy within
  • anther sacs and filaments are about the same length
  • white,
  • broadly ellipsoid,
  • 7-10 mm long

General Description:
This erect, branched shrub can grow up to 1.5 m tall. The elliptic, opposite leaves are usually 1-2 cm long, but in young growth can exceed 2 or 3 times that length. The elongate-campanulate flowers are borne on short, drooping pedicels from the axils of the upper leaves. The inferior ovaries in the flowering stage are frequently purple. The 7-10 mm long fruits, however, are white. Following the common sense rule, "If the plant grows in the wild and has white fruits, don't eat it because it is either deadly or will make one very sick." Birds, which have different digestive enzuy.

East of the Cascades, from southern British Columbia to Montana, south to California, New Mexico and northern Mexico.

With sage brush in open slopes and in dry meadows from low to mid-elevation to moderate elevations in the mountains.

Plants which have white fruits on plants which grow in the wild should be regarded as inedible, in fact toxic to Homo sapiens. Snowberries may cause emesis and drastic catharsis. It can cause delirium and a semi-comatose condition. A period of time of 1 or 2 hours may elapse between eating and gastroenteritis or even as much as one or two days for toxalbumins which are slowly absorbed from the gastorenteric tract.

Important State References:
No information available at this time
Photos and Information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002.