Bermuda Snowberry (Chiococca alba)
Snowberry is one of the plants that would have been found in the native forests when man first arrived on Bermuda. It would have grown in the understory beneath a forest canopy of Bermuda Cedar and Palmetto. Snowberry has become rare in Bermuda through destruction of its forest habitat for development and competition from invasive plants. Snowberry grows as a shrub, reaching between 0.5 – 2 m (2-6 feet) in height, but also sometimes behaves more like a vine. Snowberry has bright green, somewhat glossy leaves that are between 5-11 cm (2-4.5 inches) long and about 5 cm (2 inches) wide with smooth edges.
The fragrant flowers are bell-shaped and hang downwards from the branches in clusters. The yellow flowers appear in the autumn. The fruit that begin to develop from the pollinated flowers are greenish-yellow and are compressed (they look like they have been flattened). As the fruit ripen, they become round, white berries slightly bigger than a pea. Snowberries ripen in the winter and provide food for birds and wildlife.
Snowberry is an excellent addition to any garden and is available from several local garden centres. Snowberry does best in sheltered locations with moist soil. Snowberry can be found in the Botanical Gardens as well as several parks and reserves, such as Hog Bay Park in Somerset and Walsingham Nature Reserve. It is also thriving in the restored forest on Nonsuch Island where some specimens reach a great height.
Related Research: The Millennium Seed Bank Project