A thicket-forming shrub, with a trailing habit. Shoots with short curved hairs, older bark grey, shredding. Buds downy, acute, only 1–2 mm long. Leaves oval to ovate, 10–30 × 5–20 mm, the tip acute or even apiculate, the base cuneate, the margin ciliate and often lobed, sinuous or crenate; upper surface dark green and slightly reticulate, the lower surface strongly reticulate and grey-downy under the veins; petiole pubescent, 1–3 mm long. Flowers paired in the upper leaf axils or solitary, bracts lanceolate, acute, pubescent, bractlets oval, acute, pubescent; calyx glaucous, nearly glabrous, with 5 very shallow (c. 0.3 mm long) teeth; corolla pinkish, more or less tubular, symmetrical, 9–12 mm long, with lobes a quarter to a third as long as the tube, pilose inside in the lower part; anthers 2–2.5 mm, shorter than the filaments, style glabrous, 2–4 mm; fruit white, ellipsoid, 6–8 mm long; nutlets flattened, blunt-tipped, 4–5 × 2–3 mm. (Jones 1940).
Distribution Mexico Chihuahua United States Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
Habitat Banks of canyons, ravines and rubble slopes, at high elevations.
USDA Hardiness Zone 5
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
Taxonomic note Symphoricarpos palmeri is treated (along with many other taxa) as a synonym for S. rotundifolius in Plants of the World Online (Plants of the World Online 2021) but is considered a distinct species by Bell (Bell 2009) and by some other authorities. Genetic sampling of one specimen by Bell (Bell 2010) failed to show very clear differences from S. rotundifolius.
Symphoricarpos palmeri was described by E. Neville Jones in 1940 (Jones 1940) and named after his colleague Ernest Jesse Palmer, who was the first botanist to collect and study the taxon. As a minor, high-altitude member of a rather confused group of snowberries, it appears to have no presence in cultivation.