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Chiococca alba Snowberry1

Edward F. Gilman 2

Introduction

Chiococca alba is a handsome, low scrambling shrub that can reach a height of 10 feet if given a support to climb upon (Fig. 1). The leathery leaves of the snowberry are evergreen, shiny, and dark green in color. White to yellowish, tubular flowers are found in the leaf axil and occur in 3-inch-long racemes or panicles. Each raceme or panicle is tipped with 6 to 8 of the flowers, and these flowers turn from white to yellow with time. The common name used for this shrub refers to the large, ovoid, sparkling white fruits that follow the delightful flowers. This plant may be used as a mounding specimen and is a splendid trellis or espalier subject.

Figure 1. Snowberry.
Figure 1.  Snowberry.

General Information

Scientific name: Chiococca alba
Pronunciation: kye-oh-KOE-kuh AL-buh
Common name(s): snowberry
Family: Rubiaceae
Plant type: vine
USDA hardiness zones: 10 through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: native to Florida
Uses: espalier; mass planting; foundation
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.

Description

Height: depends upon supporting structure
Spread: 6 to 10 feet
Plant habit: spreading; round
Plant density: open
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristic: flowers periodically throughout the year

Fruit

Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: white
Fruit characteristic: attracts birds

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems; not particularly showy
Current year stem/twig color: green
Current year stem/twig thickness: thin

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: acidic; alkaline; sand; loam
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: unknown
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

The snowberry is a shrub that needs a sunny location and well-drained soil. It will grow well on sandy loam soils and can tolerate dry conditions. This plant can be found in or near coastal areas throughout Florida and will usually survive without care.

Pests and Diseases

Chewing insects may occasionally be a problem for Chiococca alba, but none are lethal.

Footnotes

1. This document is FPS124, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FPS124

Date: 5/25/2015

      Organism ID

      Contacts

      • Gail Hansen de Chapman