California Heritage Plant February 2017

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Snowberry is our pick for California Heritage Plant 2017
Symphoricarpos albus  is common throughout most of the American North West.  This thicket forming native grows 3-6ft. wide and high spreading via rhizomes.  Pink flowers appear late Spring and early Summer giving way to white berries.  The berries contain saponins which have mild toxicity and many medicinal uses.  While it would take quite a few berries of Snowberry Bush to induce toxic reactions, we recommend avoiding consumption.  Warning given, I have tasted the berries and can report that I am still among the living,  the flavor was mildly sweet and the berries had the consistency of rose petals, but the flavor will never successfully compete with more common garden variety berry plants.   Native peoples used the plant medicinally to treat a wide range of ailments including urinary tract infections and other rashes.  It’s most documented use is as a topical soap for relieving skin infections and mild abrasions.  Snowberry grows well with Rosa californica and can often be found tangled together.  This is a great plant for securing lose slopes as the root system is excellent at preventing erosion.  While it easily adapts to a wide range of conditions, Symphoricarpus albus does best with moderate to regular water and full sun exposure in fast draining soil.

1 gallon White Snowberry $7.50 at Ploughshares Nursery February 2017