No, it’s not a new breakfast cereal or soft drink. It’s not even a new-found superfood. But Snowberry truly is a super native shrub. It’s easy to grow, adaptable to most any backyard, looks beautiful, is deer resistant, benefits pollinators and birds, and even some very special moths.
Symphoricarpos albus, or Snowberry, is a plant I have had in my backyard for many years. Its beautiful white berries, pink and white flowers, and tough as nails tolerance for rough conditions have made it one of my personal favorites. And more recently we at Bergen County Audubon have been introducing it to more and more wildlife habitat projects including (with the help of Gabrielle Bennett-Meany of the NJSEA ) to DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst this past week.
Its deer resistance and its value to many diverse wildlife species make Snowberry an important addition to the backyard habitat as well as to any natural area or nature center. Snowberry is also a great native shrub to naturalize an area that can compete with invasive plants , sending out runners that enable the plant to spread, creating much needed cover for birds.
The attractive, tiny white and pink flowers of the Snowberry not only look good in the home landscape but also attract many beneficial insects and pollinators, and is even used by Hummingbirds.
The eye catching marble sized white berries (POISONOUS TO HUMANS) hang on through the winter ,making it a survival food consumed by birds such as Thrushes, Waxwings and Mockingbirds when there is not many other food sources left in the wild. Perhaps the most fun of all is that it is the host plant for the Snowberry clearwing moth, a very cool looking daytime moth sometimes mistaken for a Bumble bee or even a Hummingbird.
Snowberry is a wonderfully adaptable plant. It does well in a wide range of soils including very poor ones. It will grow in average, medium moisture soils in full sun to part shade, but the best fruit production occurs in full sun. It will grow about 3 feet tall and about 6 feet wide and works great along stream banks or wherever you want to create a unique place for wildlife around your home.
Finding Snowberry at garden centers may be a little challenging, but the better nurseries can order them for you. They are worth the wait.
Introducing native plants like Snowberry to your landscape plays a very important role in preserving the future of our wildlife. By adding more diverse flowers, trees and shrubs that are native your backyard, it will become a haven for the birds and butterflies that are now being pushed to the brink.