Herb: Coralberry

Latin name: Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Synonyms: Lonicera symphoricarpos, Symphoria glomerata, Symphoricarpos vulgaris

Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Medicinal use of Coralberry:

A decoction of the inner bark or leaves has been used as a wash in the treatment of weak, inflamed or sore eyes. A cold decoction of the root bark has been used as an eye wash to treat sore eyes.

Description of the plant:


2 m
(6 1/2 foot)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Open woods, thickets and dry banks.

Edible parts of Coralberry:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Scarcely eaten. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter. Some caution is advised, see the notes on toxicity above.

Other uses of the herb:

Plants can be grown as a hedge or informal screen. They are very tolerant of trimming. Plants have an extensive root system and also sucker freely, they can be used for soil stabilization.

Propagation of Coralberry:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 months warm then 5 months cold stratification. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 15 - 25cm long preferably with a heel, in a sheltered bed outdoors in winter. High percentage. Division of suckers in winter. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.

Cultivation of the herb:

Open woods, thickets and dry banks.

Known hazards of Symphoricarpos orbiculatus:

No report of toxicity has been seen for this species but the fruit of many if not all members of this genus contains saponins. Although toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also destroyed by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins but it would take extremely large doses of many kilos of fruit from this plant in order to produce toxic symptoms. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.