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Department of Horticulture

Shepherdia argentea

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Also known as the silver buffaloberry, this thorny shrub or 6- to 10-foot-tall tree has an overall silvery or whitened appearance. Leaves are narrow and silvery white on both sides, and the flowers are very small, yellow and borne on small branches. The scarlet to yellow fruits are borne in small clusters and vary in size from that of a currant to a small gooseberry. They ripen in July, but may remain on the bushes, and if any fruit remains after frost and bird feeding, they can still be gathered anytime during winter.

Buffaloberries can be dried and stored or used in jellies, sauces and conserves. Its agreeable flavor lends itself well to out-of-hand eating, but harvest is difficult due to the 1- to 2-inch thorns. Like legumes, these plants fix nitrogen from the atmosphere.

Growing buffaloberries
Plant buffaloberries in full sun but with cool northern exposures to delay flowering and avoid damage to flower buds by late spring frosts. Otherwise the plant is very hardy, growing in Zones 3 to 7. While buffaloberries prefer moist, well-drained soil, they tolerate poor, dry soils and high pH quite well. Plants are slow growing. To ensure successful pollination, plant both male and female plants. Male flowers are sessile (stalkless) and clustered at nodes. Female flower parts are smaller, more slender and have stalked buds arranged in less compact clusters.

A related species, the russet buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis) is thornless, but has bitter, sour berries.

Birds enjoy buffaloberries.

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