Symphoricarpos occidentalis Hook.

Wolfberry, Western Snowberry


CC = 10
CW = 5
MOC = 2
SRank = S1

© SRTurner

Family - Caprifoliaceae

Habit - Shrub to 1.0 m.

Stems - Young twigs short-hairy, later becoming glabrous. Bark gray to grayish brown, thin, tending to become shredded.

Symphoricarpos_occidentalis_stem.jpg Stem and node.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Opposite, simple, entire, petiolate. Petioles 3-7 mm long. Leaf blades 2-4 cm long, 12-25 mm wide, oblong-elliptic to broadly ovate, broadly rounded or broadly angled to nearly truncate at the base, rounded or angled to a bluntly pointed tip (those of the lobed first leaves of the season sometimes appearing sharply pointed), the upper surface bright green to dark green, the undersurface pale green, short-hairy, at least along the veins, usually not glaucous.

Symphoricarpos_occidentalis_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Symphoricarpos_occidentalis_leaf2.jpg Leaves abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescences - Dense axillary clusters of sessile flowers.

Symphoricarpos_occidentalis_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Corollas 5-9 mm long, lobed about 1/2 of the way to the base, pale pink or occasionally greenish white. Stamens with the anthers 1.8-2.2 mm long, exserted from the corolla. Styles glabrous.

Symphoricarpos_occidentalis_flowers1.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Symphoricarpos_occidentalis_flowers2.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Berrylike drupes 5-9 mm in diameter, white or greenish white. Nutlets 3.0-3.5 mm long, elliptic in outline, rounded to bluntly pointed at each end.

Symphoricarpos_occidentalis_fruits1.jpg Young fruits.

© SRTurner

Flowering - June - August.

Habitat - Mesic upland forests and margins of loess hill prairies.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - None.

Other info. - This species is rare in Missouri, currently reported from only two counties in the extreme northwest corner of the state. In fact, Missouri's populations occur at the very edge of the plant's natural range, which is mainly found within the upper Plains states. The plant is identified by its opposite, broadly elliptic leaves and axial flowers.

Photographs taken at Rocky Mountain National Park, Larimer County, CO, 8-2-2017, and near Three Forks, Gallatin County, MT, 8-14-2019 and 6-17-2021 (SRTurner).