Deciduous, erect, much-branched shrub, often densely colonial from rhizomes, 0.5-3 m tall; older stems dark greyish-brown with shredding bark; branchlets glabrous; twigs thin, wiry.
Opposite, on stalks 2-4 mm long, elliptic to oval, 1.5-5 cm long and 1-3.5 cm wide, obtuse at base and tip, margins entire or occasionally with a few wavy teeth; leaves often larger and irregularly lobed on sterile shoots; glabrous above, glabrous or spreading-hairy beneath.
Inflorescence of short, dense clusters (racemes) of few, short-stalked to nearly stalked flowers, at ends of twigs and often also in upper leaf axils; corollas widely bell-shaped, 5-7 mm long, hairy within; petals pink to whitish, fused at bases into tubes that flare at top to 5 lobes, which are as long to half as long as the tubes; styles 2-3 mm long, glabrous; stamens shorter than corolla lobes, the anthers 1-1.5 mm long, about as long as the filaments.
Berrylike drupes, densely clustered, waxy white, ellipsoid or nearly globose, 5-15 mm long; nutlets 2, each enclosing a seed; some fruits persist through the winter.
Two varieties occur in BC:
1. Plants 0.5-1 m tall; fruits usually less than 1 cm long; infrequent in E BC................... var. albus
1. Plants 1-3 m tall; fruits 1-1.5 cm long; our common phase......................... var. laevigatus (Fern.) Blake
Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Symphoricarpos albus subsp. laevigatus (Fernald) Hultén
Symphoricarpos rivularis Suksd.
KEY TO SYMPHORICARPOS
1. Stems trailing and rooting at the nodes, the branches rising less than 50 cm................S. hesperius
1. Stems erect, more or less branching, 0.3-3 m tall.
2. Corollas relatively short and wide, the lobes nearly equalling the tubes.
3. Styles short, not exserted from the corolla tube, glabrous.