Shrub or tree with white berries?????

donnamp14(z5MA)November 11, 2008

Oh, many years ago when we were young and stupid, we bought a house. Eleven years ago, to be exact. There was not one blade of grass, since the nut who re-habbed it clear cut the yard. We planted grass and many perennials and loads of shrubs and a couple of trees and even a vegetable garden. Life was good.

Except for one thing. Eleven years ago (being stupid, as I have mentioned) we dug up a shrub/tree/bush that kept coming back. Yep, we killed it. It was hardy old thing, and produced white berries, and thees berries looked a little like popped corn. Round, white and at the time, unappreciated by us.

Now, we want to find out what it was and maybe plant another one. Can anyone give me any ideas for finding this thing? I've hunted around on the net and come up empty.



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terrene(5b MA)

It sounds like it could have been Cornus racemosa, or Gray Dogwood. These have white berries on red stems and the birds just love the berries. This is a native, old-field species that is one of the more drought-tolerant of the Dogwood species. Bummer that you dug yours out. :(

I purchased 20 seedlings of these from the New Hampshire state nursery in the Spring 07. They are vigorous growers and have a lovely dusky purple fall color, but mine haven't flowered yet Can't wait to see those!

If you scroll down on this link, you'll see a picture of the berries.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornus racemosa - Gray dogwood

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 12:19PM
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Thanks for that information! I am not sure that's what we had, because I don't remember the red stems. I'll ask my husband to take a look. I really can't believe we actually pulled that out!


    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 12:33PM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

Hmm, Gray Dogwood (Swida racemosa -- formerly Cornus racemosa)? It has white berries...

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 12:35PM
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cloud_9(z5 CT)

Callicarpa 'alba'? I has clusters of white berries that may be the popcorn effect that you remember.

Here is a link that might be useful: Callicarpa 'alba'

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 2:19PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Cloud9, very pretty Callicarpa! Wow - those berries are amazing. They do look kinda like popcorn balls! :)

Donna - I know how you feel. Years ago at my previous house, I remember cutting down a native plum when I first moved there. It was a big thorny thing, and I was a little chop happy. However, with some pruning it would have been quite the specimen. The next Spring a smaller Plum bloomed with very fragrant white flowers. A neighbor lady even mentioned something, because she enjoyed the fragrance when she went by on her walks. By then I totally regretted cutting it down. So now I try to ID things before I chop away! :)

Hi EllenS - Swida? what's with the genus change?

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 3:50PM
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You might have had snowberry, a much-loved old fashioned shrub with wonderful white berries, like pearls. Symphoricarpos albus is the scientific name. It used to be very popular but as its only asset is the berries, it is not commonly grown anymore. But if you read old books, they all loved it so it's perfect for a New England garden.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 4:48PM
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Depending on just where you are in Z5, Callicarpa Leucocarpa may not be hardy to have kept coming back like that. I had one several years ago, but it didn't make it where I am (near NH border). But the berries were really cool this time of year, albeit a little out of place with traditional fall colors.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 5:13PM
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SNOWBERRY! That's it! However, I love the gray dogwood, too. I'll commence the search for both, and plant one of each.

Thanks so much! All of my gardening skills and knowledge have come from this board, one way or another. I have not had much to contribute, but I check this board almost every day. I've learned to appreciate the art of gardening, the challenge of gardening in New England, and to appreciate and embrace our native species. Some day I'll join you for a tour or a garden swap. You've taught me so much! Your willingness to share is just such a blessing.

Thank you. Thank you!!!!


    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 8:22AM
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People share by asking interesting questions too, Donna, so you have already contributed.

Snowberries are a native plant and lots of birds and other animals depend on them in the winter. Another reason to plant them.

In her influential 1901 book, "Old Time Gardens", Alice Morse Earle tells how before greenhouses and florists, everyone grew snowberries as they were one of the few things to pick for a winter bouquet. So there was hardly a New England garden without a snowberry.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 9:33AM
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whitegarden(Z5 MA)

They have specimens of snowberry at The Garden in the Woods. They might also sell them in their nursery area. I think it is considered endangered in New England.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 9:47AM
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I live quite close to The Garden in the Woods, so maybe I'll wander over soon. Our house was owned by a man who lived there for 90 years! The property had mostly trees, but he used to feed the squirrels peanuts in the shell. We're still finding them in the yard. I mentioned to my neighbor that we were always finding peanuts and she told us all about the previous owner. I wish we'd known him.

At any rate, I love old things. My house has many antiques and we have plants MIL gave us from her childhood home. They're quite special to us. We have pachysandra that came from the house DH grew up in, and they got it from MIL's father, long deceased. Who knows where he got it? I've given some to my friends.

Gardening creates quite a community, doesn't it!


    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 11:14AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

"...People share by asking interesting questions too, Donna, so you have already contributed...."

Absolutely! I never heard of snowberry until I read this thread, so Donna, you have added to my gardening knowledge!

This is a rather attractive shrub, and does look vaguely familiar. I wonder, though, if it's suckering and spreading tendencies are something I want to introduce to my yard? I don't suppose anyone here has any first-hand experience with it?


    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 12:17PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I just did some googling, Forest Farm has a number of different Symphoricarpos - of different colors, too.

So many nice shrubs, so little space....


    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 12:31PM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

Terrene - those botanists are at it again, yes, and have reclassified Gray Dogwood as Swida rather than Cornus. Just when I've managed to remember a botanic name, they go and change them :-)

New advances in DNA research are allowing botanists to finally confirm the correct families of many plants...and causing some of them to be reclassified...

Aster was always an easy one to remember, now it's been changed to some name that I may never be able to memorize :-(

re: Snowberry..I think I got a photo of them at Garden in the Woods a year or two ago...and their berries really are pretty. We should start a crusade to re-introduce them to New England gardens!!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 4:15PM
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