Shrub 30 cm - 1 m tall Leaves: opposite, dull grayish green, 2 - 5 cm long, egg-shaped to oval, sometimes lobed, hairy beneath. Flowers: stalked, in pairs or in small clusters. Corolla five-lobed, pinkish white, 5 - 9 mm long, bell-shaped, swollen on one side. Lobes half as long or equal to tube. Style included within the corolla. Fruit: berry-like (drupe), in clusters, white to greenish white, 6 - 15 mm long, waxy. There are two stones inside each drupe. Twigs: hollow, finely hairy or hairless when young.
Similar species: Symphoricarpos occidentalis is similar but has stalkless flowers with styles exserted from the corolla. Symphoricarpos orbiculatus is also similar but has smaller, greenish to purplish corollas (to 4 mm long) and drupes that are coral-pink to purple. The leaves of the variety S. albus var. laevigatus are typically hairless beneath.
Habitat and ecology: Typically found on cliff edges and along roadsides, but rare in the Chicago Region.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Symphoricarpos comes from the Greek words symphoreo, meaning "born together," and karpos, meaning fruit (in reference to the clustered fruits). Albus means white.
Shrub to 1 m, the younger parts finely hairy or glabrous; lvs ovate or oval, usually hairy beneath, mostly 2-3 cm; fls in pairs on short pedicels or in few-fld, interrupted spikes; cor 5-8 mm, ventricose, the lobes equaling or merely half as long as the tube; anthers 1-1.5 mm, nearly or fully as long as the filaments; style glabrous, 2-3 mm; fr 6-10 mm, white; 2n=36, 54. Our native plants, as here described, are var. albus. The var. laevigatus (Fernald) S. F. Blake, of the Pacific slope, mostly 1-2 m, with the fr mostly 1-1.5 cm, and with the lvs usually glabrous beneath, often escapes from cult. Dry or rocky soil; Que. to s. Alas., s. to Va., Mich., Minn., and Calif. May-July. (S. racemosus)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.