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Snowberry facts and health benefits

Some facts about snow
Name: Snooberry
A scientific name: Album Symphoricarpos
Origin North America, where it occurs in most parts of Canada and in the north and west of the United States.
Colours glossy white
Forms Globoid molasses syrup, fleshy, shiny white, about 8-16 mm in diameter, with a waxy surface structure.
Taste Bitter
Benefits to your health Useful for stomach problems, menstrual disorders, burns, rashes, itching, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, fever, eczema, skin ulcers and watery eyes.

Symphoricarpos, known as Snowberry, is a deciduous shrub of the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae). There are about 15 kinds of snowberries. This plant is native to North America, where it occurs in most parts of Canada and the north and west of the United States. An ordinary snowball owes its name to a round, creamy, white fruit that looks like a snowball. Snowflake, common, waxy, thin-leaved snowflake, northern snowflake, white cranberry, waxy, ghostly and corpse berry are some of the popular names for this plant.

The genus Symphoricarpos is derived from the two Greek words symphorein, which means to bear fruit together, and karpos, which means fruit, and thus refers to fruits born in clusters. The name of the species Albus means white colour of the fruit. The Indians used this plant as a remedy and soap and sometimes as food, and the wood was good for arrowheads. In Russia, the berries are crushed and rubbed into the hands to apply a soothing and regenerating hand lotion. This shrub is an important source of food for a number of animals, including sheep, white-tailed deer and grizzly bears. Animals such as cattle and sheep are easy to see. Many birds and small mammals use them as food and shelter. The ground squirrels dig holes there in winter.

The fruit and the shrub itself are high in saponins, which are easily poisonous to humans and pets and cause vomiting, but are very useful for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. This shrub is used to combat coastal erosion and is planted as part of environmental restoration projects in disturbed areas, such as abandoned mines. Its white fruits and blue-green leaves made it a popular ornamental plant that was planted around old houses from 1890 to the 1920s, such as the Vanhuttes spiral or a bridal wreath.

Description of the installation

A snowball is a straight, fast-growing, dense shrub that normally grows to a height of about 1 to 2 metres. (3.3-6.6 feet). The plant grows on banks and plains in gorges, near streams, in scrubland, on the edge of woods, on open slopes, in plains up to medium height in the mountains, in dry mesic meadows, in disturbed areas, in grassland, in scrubland, in steppe and mountain soils, on river banks, on rocky slopes, on river banks, on road coverings, on railways, in landfills. The plant prefers heavy, well-drained soils (clay) and areas with sufficient sunlight. It has been naturalised in parts of Britain where it has been planted as an ornamental plant and as a cover for game. The plant produces a stiff, branched main stem and often several small root shoots. It can spread and colonize an area to form a dense thicket. The branches are thin and yellow-brown in colour. Young shoots have yellowish-brown bark, older stems and twigs are grey-brown and scaly or split lengthways into older shoots.

Plugs

Along the branches and young shoots there are pairs of opposite leaves. These sheets are ½ – 1½ inch long, up to 1 inch wide. They are generally oval-elliptical, ovoid to almost round, blunt to rounded at the top, generally rounded at the base, on a short, finely hairy stem, generally smooth or slightly wavy at the edges (the leaves of very young shrubs are sometimes more wavy). The upper side is hairless to rarely hairy, dark green to blue-green, while the underside of the leaves is light green to almost white and hairless. The petioles are very short, up to ¼ inch long; light green, hairy to slightly short. New twigs are yellowish to reddish brown, tenderly hairy if young twigs become hairless.

Flower

The inflorescence is a terminal flower that can have up to 16 flowers at the end of the new stems. The flowers are about 2.5 cm long and are bell-shaped pink and white. Five lobes of the whip have a blunt tip, but the lobes do not protrude, making the flower appear longer than it is wide. This is not like the mulberry tree, where the leaves are very common. The elongated green cup has 5 triangular violet lobes. The inner part of the whip is bearded with white hair; the genitals have 5 stamens and have been cut. The lower ovary is ovoid, but slightly constricted at the base of the cup. Light green flower stems are very short (less than 1/8 inch or 1-2 mm long), while other stems are light green to reddish purple. Flowering usually lasts about 1.5 months, from the beginning to the middle of summer, but can last until autumn if conditions are favourable. Flowers have an unpleasant smell.

Fruit

The fertile flowers produce globular, fleshy, bright white droplets with a diameter of about 8 to 16 mm and a waxy surface structure. Like the flowers, they will be found in a small community that will last until winter, because birds usually do not eat them in the fall. Each cloth has a waxy and woody interior with a bitter taste, with a few seeds, sometimes even 3.  Expressed spongy berries are 4-5 mm long, bony white, flattened, broad elliptical grains surrounded by flesh. The fruit ripens from September to November. When properly stored, the seeds are viable for 7 to 10 years. The plant sometimes reproduces by means of seed, but is mainly vegetative and reproduces by means of germination of the rhizomes. Birds spread the seeds after eating the fruit. They are inedible to humans and toxic because of the saponin they contain.

Traditional uses and benefits of snowberry

  • Snowberry was widely used in medicine by several indigenous tribes of North American Indians, who especially appreciated it for its saponins.
  • The Indians used it for the treatment of various ailments, but especially for the external cleansing of the skin.
  • Any internal use of this installation should be carried out with care and preferably under the supervision of a qualified person.
  • The whole plant is disinfecting, diuretic, febrile and laxative.
  • The infusion of the stems was drunk to treat stomach problems and menstrual disorders.
  • The decoction of the leaves was used to treat colds.
  • For the treatment of external damage, a chewed leaf wrapper or leaf dye was used for washing.
  • A weak solution of stems and leaves was used to wash the children, while a stronger solution was used to treat pressure ulcers.
  • The fruits were eaten or used as an infusion to treat diarrhoea.
  • The fruit infusion was used to relieve eye pain.
  • The berries are rubbed on the skin to treat burns, rashes, itching and ulcers.
  • The berries are also rubbed with warts to remove them – this treatment should be carried out at least three times a day for several weeks.
  • A compress of crushed leaves, fruit and bark was used to treat burns, ulcers, cuts, tears and skin lesions.
  • The root infusion was used to treat fever (also in children), abdominal pain and colds.
  • The decoction of the root bark was used to treat sexually transmitted diseases and restore urine flow.
  • An infusion of roots was used as a rinse for sore eyes.
  • The infusion of the whole plant was drunk and used externally to treat the rash.
  • Root and stem boils have been used in the treatment of urinary insufficiency, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and fever.
  • Discarded plant parts, such as leaves, fruit and bark, are used to treat burns, bedsores, cuts, tears and skin injuries.
  • The infusion from the stem of the plant is used for the treatment of stomach problems and menstrual disorders.
  • The decoction of mulberry leaves is used to cure the cold.
  • In case of external damage, a leaf gum with a leaf tip or leaf infusion is applied before washing.
  • Snowberry stem and leaf solution is used to wash children.
  • A strong solution is used for the treatment of pressure ulcers.
  • The infusion of the root of the plant is used to treat fever, stomach aches and colds.
  • The cooking of the root bark is used in the treatment of venereal diseases.
  • The decoction of the root and stem of the plant is used for the treatment of dysuria (inability to urinate), venereal diseases, tuberculosis and dental fever.
  • The berries rub the skin to treat burns, rashes, itching, warts and ulcers.
  • The fruits and leaves are massaged and applied as compresses on cuts or skin ulcers, soothing cold and diseased eyes.
  • Tea from the bark was used as a remedy for tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Beer made from the whole plant was used as a physical tonic.
  • The fruit of an ordinary snowdrop has caused a person to vomit, diarrhoea, dizziness and, in severe cases, loss of consciousness.
  • Tea made from the stem and root of the plant has been used to treat fever and stomach aches.
  • A chewed leaf dressing or leaf washing was applied to the external damage to heal it and prevent infection.
  • The berries are rubbed into the skin to treat rash, burns, itching, warts and ulcers.
  • Tea made from the root was used to cleanse the uterus after childbirth.
  • The combined berries and cortex were used in an ointment that was used daily to treat paralysis due to nerve damage after a stroke.
  • The ointment can also be used to treat burns, eczema, cuts and bruises.
  • Snowdrop infusion can be used to treat sore, watery eyes. Fresh snow can soothe burns, rashes and skin ulcers.

Other facts

  • The plants have an extensive root system and are used for soil stabilization on slopes and embankments.
  • The branches can be banded and used as brooms.
  • The berries contained saponins and were used to wash the hair.
  • Softwood decoction was used as a cleaning agent for babies.
  • Shattered berries rub your armpits like an anti-perspirant.
  • It can be grown in medium or high hedges.
  • This shrub is an important source of food for a number of animals, including sheep, white-tailed deer and grizzly bears.
  • The Indians used this plant as a remedy and as soap and sometimes as food, and the wood was good for arrows.
  • In Russia, the berries are crushed and rubbed into the hands to apply a soothing and regenerating hand lotion.
  • This shrub is used to combat coastal erosion and is planted as part of environmental restoration projects in disturbed areas, such as abandoned mines.
  • Its white fruits and blue-green leaves make it a popular ornamental plant planted around old houses.
  • Wood used in the manufacture of lullabies.
  • The stems are sharpened and used as augers.
  • Hollow stems are used for tubular stems and arrow-shaped stems for hunting small birds.

Precautions

  • Fruits and shrubs themselves are poisonous to humans.
  • Snowball can be a gastrointestinal irritant that can cause vomiting, urinary bleeding and delirium.
  • For humans, berries are bitter and easily emetic, and when used in large quantities they cause vomiting, dizziness and/or sedation.

References :

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=35332#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomydetail?id=36006

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Symphoricarpos+albus

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=e292

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/SYPAL

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2486129

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphoricarpos_albus

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=syal

http://www.narc.gov.jo/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=36006

https://www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org/pages/plants/snowberry.html

https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/523590