POISONOUS PARTS: Berries. LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea. Toxic Principle: Calcium oxalate and possibly saponic glycoside. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
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).
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. (Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System)
Present and growing in the Atlantic Maritimes but not native to that region. (Nature Serve)
Habitat and Identification Information: Small shrub usually up to 2 metres high, forming low loosely branched thickets in open woods or shaded woodland areas. Leaves are small almost round, the flowers are small pink and white, bell shaped flowers (with a slightly unpleasant odor), which transform into clusters of bright white spongy berrylike drupes, with a dark spot at the free end. Their favourite habitat is open woods, rocky or sandy in thickets, and well drained talus slopes and ridges (Soper & Heimburger, 1994)
Garden Uses: The white drupes are unique to Ontario shrubs and are a distinguishing characteristic in August and September. The plant is often used in Ontario urban situations as a shrub in ornamental gardens. It is not widely known that it is also a plant native to Ontario. (Evergreen).
Insect Relationships: Hemaris thysbe (Hummingbird Clearwing), and Hesperumia sulphuraria (Sulfur Moth) feed on the foliage of Snowberry and other Symphoricarpos spp. (Illinois Wildflowers)
First Nations people used parts of this plant for traditional, medical and carefully prepared, edible uses.
This plant is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. (Plants for a Future)
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