Shrub to 1 m tall Leaves: opposite, 2.5 - 8 cm long, egg-shaped to oblong egg-shaped, coarsely round-toothed, thick, leathery, slightly hairy beneath. Flowers: stalkless in dense, short spikes. Corolla lobed, pale pink, 5 - 9 mm long, urn-shaped. Lobes about equal to tube. Style exserted from the corolla. Fruit: berry-like (drupe), in dense clusters, white to greenish white, 6 - 10 mm long. There are two stones inside each drupe. Twigs: finely hairy when young.
Similar species: Symphoricarpos albus is similar but has stalked flowers with styles included within the corolla. Symphoricarpos orbiculatus is also similar but has smaller, greenish to purplish corollas (to 4 mm long) and drupes that are coral-pink to purple.
Flowering: mid-June to late August
Habitat and ecology: Possibly introduced from farther west. Locally frequent in dry open ground, particularly in loose railroad ballast. Rarely seen in stable native communities.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Symphoricarpos comes from the Greek words symphoreo, meaning "born together," and karpos, meaning fruit (in reference to the clustered fruits). Occidentalis means "of or from the West."
Shrub to 1 m, colonial by roots, the younger parts finely hairy; lvs ovate to ovate-oblong, 2.5-8 cm, often coarsely crenate; fls sessile in short dense spikes terminal and in the upper axils; cor 5-8 mm, the lobes somewhat arcuate-spreading, about equaling the tube; anthers 1.5-2 mm, shorter than the filaments; style 4-7 mm, long-hairy near the middle, seldom glabrous; fr 6-9 mm, white; 2n=36. Dry prairies and moist low ground; Mich. to nw. Mo., w. to B.C. and Colo. June-Aug.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.