While most fall and winter berries are red, or perhaps dark blue, snowberries sport showy clusters of pristine white, berry-like fruit. If not eaten by the birds, the fruit will adorn the bare branches in winter. The upright, finely-branched shrubs are about three feet tall. Moderate growers, they are long-lived, with tiny pink, bell-shaped flowers that appear in early summer.


A Colorado native, snowberry is well adapted to our growing conditions, and is hardy to zone 3. Soil type doesn’t matter, so long as it’s moderately fertile and reasonably well-drained. Plant in full sun, and water until established. While mature plants are highly drought tolerant, they also survive once-a-week watering, which also results in heavier fruit crops. Prune only to remove old, dead wood.


While the slightly toxic berries are considered inedible by people, deer will browse on the plants. With its dense foliage, snowberry makes a good foundation shrub. For a woodland feel, combine with other natives such as Oregon grape and ponderosa pines.

Contributed by Leslie Holzmann, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at (719) 520-7684 (new number) or

Photo courtesy of Leslie Holzmann.

For a wrap-up of other areas and what’s been blooming, check out:
Blooming in Monument Valley Park – All Posts.

This week, I saw a few new berries in the park. The berries I saw last week are still there, and many of the blooming plants highlighted in the July 28 post are still blooming as well.

Symphoricarpos occidentalis_Caprifoliaceae_Western Snowberry_2.jpg

Symphoricarpos occidentalis

We’ll start at the parking lot where Fontanero Street ends at the park and head north. You’ll pass our favorite little field with many things still blooming (threadleaf yellowrays, a few penstemon, some spiderwort, and lots of blue grama grass seedheads). Continue to the west of the playing field and when you’ve gotten nearly to the end of the field and the path starts to gently turn to the right, start watching along the left edge of the trail. You should see a small patch of western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis) with its small white berries. As with most white berries, these are toxic to humans, and you do not want to eat them! Interestingly, other animals, like chipmunks, are able to eat them. Once you start recognizing the grey-green leaf and the white berries, you’ll probably notice this native shrub in many other areas of town (like Garden of the Gods, for example). (more…)