Thin-leaved Snowberry (Common name)

General poisoning notes:

Thin-leaved snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) is a native shrub found throughout much of Canada in woods and open slopes. The plant is also used as an ornamental shrub in many areas. The white berries contain the isoquinoline alkaloid chelidonine, as well as other alkaloids. Ingesting the berries causes mild symptoms of vomiting, dizziness, and slight sedation in children. The risk of severe poisoning does not appear great because of vomiting that occurs after ingestion. Children should be discouraged from eating the attractive white fruit (Lewis 1979, Lampe and McCann 1985).

References:

  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.
  • Lewis, W. H. 1979. Snowberry (Symphoricarpos) poisoning in children. J. Am. Med. Assoc., 242: 2663.
  • Turner, N. J., Szczawinski, A. F. 1991. Common poisonous plants and mushrooms of North America. Timber Press, Portland, Oreg., USA. 311 pp.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Symphoricarpos albus (L.) Blake
Vernacular name(s):
thin-leaved snowberry
Scientific family name:
Caprifoliaceae
Vernacular family name:
honeysuckle

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Symphoricarpos albus

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada. Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

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Toxic parts:

  • mature fruit

References:

  • Lewis, W. H. 1979. Snowberry (Symphoricarpos) poisoning in children. J. Am. Med. Assoc., 242: 2663.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

An isoquinoline alkaloid, chelidonine, was found in the fruits of thin-leaved snowberry. This chemical is also found in greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), an unrelated plant (Lewis 1979).

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • chelidonine

References:

  • Lewis, W. H. 1979. Snowberry (Symphoricarpos) poisoning in children. J. Am. Med. Assoc., 242: 2663.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Children who ingested the attractive white fruits experienced vomiting, dizziness, and mild sedation. Blood-stained urine was also reported (Lewis 1979, Cooper and Johnson 1984).

References:

  • Lewis, W. H. 1979. Snowberry (Symphoricarpos) poisoning in children. J. Am. Med. Assoc., 242: 2663.
  • Turner, N. J., Szczawinski, A. F. 1991. Common poisonous plants and mushrooms of North America. Timber Press, Portland, Oreg., USA. 311 pp.

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