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     "Symphoricarpos" is from the Greek "symphorein", "borne together," and "karpos", "fruit", and refers to the closely packed berries. 

     Henri Duamel du Monceau (1700-1781) named this genus.

Symphoricarpos longiflorus
Symphoricarpos longiflorus

Symphoricarpos longiflorus (Long-flowered Snowberry)
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, woodlands.  Spring.
Above: Comb Wash, Utah, October 28, 2013.
Left: Hunter Canyon, Utah, May 3, 2005.

This lovely shrub grows to about five feet tall and wide with interlaced straight and arching branches and numerous fragrant pink flowers.  Leaves are oval and hairy.  Small stems persist and become thorny.  Berries are abundant and white.  In the Four Corners region, Symphoricarpos longiflorus is not as abundant as its cousin, S. rotundifolius pictured below, but in its high desert habitat, it is relatively easy to find.

Asa Gray named this species in 1878 from a specimen collected by Searles in the Pahranagat Mountains in Nevada in 1871.

 

Symphoricarpos longiflorus

Symphoricarpos longiflorus (Long-flowered Snowberry)
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, woodlands.  Spring.
Hunter Canyon, Utah, May 3, 2005.

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius.  Synonym: Symphoricarpos oreophilus.  (Round-leaf Snowberry)
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Woodlands.  Spring.
Lower Stoner Mesa Trail, June 12, 2000.

Snowberry is a dominant shrub in many areas of the San Juans and other Four Corners mountains.  It  grows three to five feet tall and wide and covers large areas of the forest, especially under Aspen canopies.

Henri Duhamel named the Symphoricarpos genus in 175, and Asa Gray named and described the species Symphoricarpos rotundifolius in 1853 from a specimen collected by Charles Wright.

Asa Gray also named and described Symphoricarpos oreophilus in 1873 from a specimen collected by Sereno Watson.

Intermountain Flora, A Utah Flora, and Flora of the Four Corners Region consider Symphoricarpos rotundifolius and Symphoricarpos oreophilus to be one species with the name S. oreophilus.

Colorado Flora, Flora of Colorado, Flora Neomexicana III, and The Jepson Manual consider Symphoricarpos rotundifolius and Symphoricarpos oreophilus to be one species with the name S. rotundifolius.

John Kartesz, ultimate authority for all names on this web site, considers Symphoricarpos rotundifolius and Symphoricarpos oreophilus to be two distinct species.

Harrington's Manual of the Plants of Colorado describes both species. The details he gives for almost all plant characteristics are very similar or identical. Following are the most distinctive characteristics he lists:

S. oreophilus: twigs glabrous; 1-1.5 meter tall; leaves "usually glabrous"; calyx lobes glabrous; corolla 11-13 mm long, corolla tube "glabrous or sparely pilose within". "Found on hillsides and valleys often on river banks".

S. rotundifolius: twigs hairy; not over a meter tall; leaves "usually puberuious [minutely short hairy]"; calyx ciliate; corolla 9-10 mm long, corolla tube "pilose [within] at lower part". Found on "slopes and valleys".

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius
Symphoricarpos rotundifolius.  Synonym: Symphoricarpos oreophilus (Round-leaf Snowberry)
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Woodlands.  Spring.
Prater Ridge Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, June 7, 2005.

Flowers are abundant and have a very distinctive sweet smell.

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius.  Synonym: Symphoricarpos oreophilus(Round-leaf Snowberry)
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Woodlands.  Spring.
Prater Ridge Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, August 14, 2005 and
Lower Calico Trail, October 2, 2014.

The snow-white berries of Symphoricarpos rotundifolius appeal to few, if any, animals and remain on the bush until they drop to the forest floor in late winter or early spring.  Perhaps the berries remain uneaten because animals have learned of their toxic qualities; the berries are high in toxic saponins, steroidal glycoside compounds which can interfere in a number of ways with proper body functioning.  Interestingly, these saponins also give the foaming properties to such plant parts as Yucca roots, making them useful as soaps.

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius.  Synonym: Symphoricarpos oreophilus(Round-leaf Snowberry)
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Woodlands.  Spring.
Big Al Trail, September 28, 2016.

Older gray stems of Symphoricarpos rotundifolius have flaky bark. Bark on younger stems is a smooth red/brown.

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius
Symphoricarpos rotundifolius.  Synonym: Symphoricarpos oreophilus(Round-leaf Snowberry)
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Woodlands.  Spring.
Lower Calico Trail, June 16, 2004.

A Tiger Swallowtail visits the delicate Snowberry flowers.

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius
Symphoricarpos rotundifolius.  Synonym: Symphoricarpos oreophilus(Round-leaf Snowberry)
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Woodlands.  Spring.
Bear Creek Trail, October 4, 2012.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Symphoricarpos longiflorus  

Symphoricarpos oreophilus

Range map for Symphoricarpos oreophilus

Range map for Symphoricarpos rotundifolius