Coralberry, also known as Indian currant, is a small, low-growing forest shrub that provides four-season interest. Fuchsia fruits brighten the landscape all winter, replaced by small greenish-white flowers that hang like bells from the branches in late spring. Dense foliage from spring to frost turns brilliant red in the fall. Mature plants have distinctive shredded bark and brownish-purple branches.
Commonly found in the understory of shaded woods, along wooded borders and paths, and in thickets. Can form extensive colonies by rooting at the nodes where it touches the ground - a great choice for a tall groundcover or controlling erosion on banks. Tucked under taller shrubs and small trees, it can provide increasingly critical thicket cover.
Grows 2-6’ with 4-8’ spread
Prefers part shade to full sun; tolerates full shade.
Will grow in a wide range of soils; prefers well-drained sand, loam, or clay.
Can be cut back to the ground to keep compact and increase berry production.
Coralberry is a host plant for the larvae of 20 species of Lepidoptera in Ohio, including the snowberry clearwing and hummingbird clearwing moths. The flowers provide nectar for native bees, honey bees, wasps, and flies. Robins and bobwhite quails are among birds that eat the fruit. Coralberry is often heavily browsed, or “pruned,” by deer. Because of its dense branching habit and abundant leaves, this shrub provides good cover for wildlife.
Medicinal and Edible Uses:
Decoctions of the bark or leaves have been used as an eye wash. The roots were used to treat blood circulation, tonsillitis, toothaches, respiratory infections, and menstrual disorders. Eating coralberries is not recommended because they contain saponin, a chemical that can be toxic in large amounts. Parts of the plant have a sedative effect and have been used by Native Americans to stun fish in the water for easier catching.
Caution: The berries contain a saponin that is toxic if too much is consumed.
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