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Snowberry is a garden must-have

By Staff | Jun 29, 2016

Plant Subject: Snowberry (Chiococca alba)

First impression: Delicate creamy white to pastel yellow draping bell shaped flowers, which are breathtaking, and grouped in cascading clusters that are too numerous to count. Older petals have a darker yellow look as they later will turn a brown paper bag color. Shiny, slender green oval leaves emerge everywhere ending as a tendril adornment to the gorgeous blossoms. My nose detects a magnificent sweet lingering fragrance and pollinators are everywhere. Brrr – Non melting, icy white flowers that any glacier lover would cheer about, blooming now at your tropical garden.

Upon further investigation: Snowberry is one of my garden must haves. We gardeners in paradise are always looking for unusual colors in berries. Fortunately, we have this wonderful native plant that is fragrant in bloom followed by pearl like fruit.

Get ready when flowers occur, fragrance is everywhere. I am gaga over its sweet vanilla, gardenia like essence, which is hard to believe coming from these teeny tiny flowers. Creamy white and bell shaped, but so numerous that their fragrance is unmistakable. They remind me of lily of the valley, which we all left behind up north.

As the flowers mature fruits form as clusters of pea size, white drupes with crystal clear, fleshy pulp. This stage of cascade berry appearance reminds us of snow and is how it received such a peculiar name, snowberry. This stage of fruiting is when wildlife, especially birds, adore this plant. I have experienced several breathtaking moments when crimson cardinals wander up and down this already striking plant. After the fruit, the seeds form dark chocolate brown and fleshy.

The plant grows wide and bushy with terminal branches ending tendril and vine like. It is evergreen, unless it is hit by a really cold spell, then its leaves drop only to re grow as the weather warms up.

Snowberry will grow on a wide variety of soils and sand. Once you see the abundant blossoms you will love this plant. Then you’ll be mesmerized by the fragrance, it will be on your gotta have list.

I began my love of snowberry, with my first plant I purchased from the SCCF Native Plant & Garden Center. Its native status puts it in the easy care, drought tolerant, and lack of pests/disease category. Super for our tropical climate due to its drought tolerance and full to filtered sun. Snowberry from days gone has been under used in our tropical landscape. I encourage you to try one, once you see it flower and fruit, don’t forget to thank me!

Pros:

Oodles of blooms and fruit

Native – Birds love the fruit

Salt tolerance

Great for a cottage garden look

Pollinator attractor: Neighbors will wonder where that lovely fragrance is coming from

Cons:

Fast grower

May have to thank Anita

Cold sensitive

Conclusion: Are you missin your snow? Plant the Southwest Florida version, minus the cold temperatures, in your tropical garden in paradise. Leave your snow boots at home-flip flops only! Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!