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Tree Campus: Snowberry

Tree Campus SCC is a multi-year and interdisciplinary college initiative to document, map, and celebrate the incredible diversity of trees planted on the campus. With over 200 species, Shoreline Community College is an arboreal paradise that deserves to b



sik̓ʷədac - S. Lushootseed

Symphoricarpos albus (CAPRIFOLIACEAE)



N. America, Canada and N.W. USA



"Common snowberry is considered important browse for many types of wildlife and livestock. It is especially important to domestic sheep and cattle. In Oregon, common snowberry was found to be highly palatable to cattle. It plays a critical role in permitting cattle to meet their protein requirements during the latter half of the growing season. It provides summer forage for cattle in Idaho and is 1 of 2 major woody plants in cattle diet during fall in South Dakota. However, it is rated as poor forage for cattle in Nebraska. Domestic sheep also utilize common snowberry for browse and it is considered fair to good forage. It is has no forage value for horses.

Bighorn sheep use common snowberry regularly during the summer in Montana and Idaho and in fall, winter, and early spring in British Columbia. White-tailed deer utilize it regularly during summer and fall. In British Columbia, white-tailed deer use it mainly in fall, winter, and early spring. Reports of elk utilization vary. In western Montana, 1 source reports Rocky Mountain elk use common snowberry frequently and heavily during early summer while another states that elk rarely or never use it, even when available. Yet another source reports its forage value to elk as fair. Moose are reported as utilizing common snowberry extensively during winter in the Gallatin River drainage in Montana. However, Pierce found moose utilization of it very light in north-central Idaho and another source states common snowberry is unpalatable to moose. Grizzly bears use common snowberry as food.

Common snowberry is important as both cover and food for bird and small mammal populations. These include sharp-tailed, ruffed, and blue grouse, wild turkey and, several non-game species of bird including the kingbird, western flycatcher, and western bluebird. Among small mammals that rely on common snowberry are fox squirrels, desert cottontails, and pocket gophers.

Common snowberry provides cover for several species of birds and mammals. White-tailed deer in western Montana show a marked preference for the Douglas-fir/common snowberry habitat type in winter. It is speculated that this preference is for structure of the habitat type. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, Merriam's turkeys prefer common snowberry for cover. Ruffed, blue and sharp-tailed grouse use common snowberry extensively as thermal cover. In Palouse prairie habitat, common snowberry provides cover for small mammals. In northern Idaho and eastern Washington, common snowberry is considered important cover for small mammals in several habitat types. Pocket gophers dig large numbers of shallow burrows underneath common snowberry in winter in northeast Oregon and desert cottontails use it in Nebraska." [1]


Equity: Cultural and Historical Significance

"Common snowberry fruit was eaten fresh but was not favored by Native Americans in Washington and Oregon. The fruits were also dried for winter use. Common snowberry was used on hair as soap, and the fruits and leaves mashed and applied to cuts or skin sores as a poultice and to soothe sore, runny eyes. Tea from the bark was used as a remedy for tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases. A brew made from the entire plant was used as a physic tonic. Arrowshafts and pipestems were made from the stems.

One source reports eating the fruit of common snowberry has caused vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and in severe cases, unconsciousness in humans. There are no reports of poisoning in animals and no definite information on the toxic constituent.

Because of its decorative white fruits, common snowberry has been used extensively as an ornamental." [1]



"Common snowberry has large ecological amplitude. Because of this amplitude, it has been widely used in rehabilitation of disturbed sites." [1]



[1] McWilliams, Jack. 2000. Symphoricarpos albus. In: Fire Effects Information System,. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:

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