Shepherdia argentea

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Shepherdia argentea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Elaeagnaceae
Genus: Shepherdia
Species: S. argentea
Binomial name
Shepherdia argentea
(Pursh) Nutt.

Shepherdia argentea, commonly called silver buffaloberry, bull berry, or thorny buffaloberry, is a species of Shepherdia.

It is native to central and western North America, from southern Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba) southwards in the United States to northern California, Arizona, and New Mexico.[1]


Shepherdia argentea is a deciduous shrub growing from 2–6 metres (6.6–19.7 ft) tall. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs (rarely alternately arranged), 2–6 cm long, oval with a rounded apex, green with a covering of fine silvery, silky hairs, more thickly silvery below than above.

The flowers are pale yellow, with four sepals and no petals.

The fruit is a bright red fleshy drupe 5 mm in diameter; it is edible but with a rather bitter taste.[2] Two cultivars, 'Xanthocarpa' and 'Goldeneye', form yellow fruit.[3]


The berry is one of the mainstays of the diet of the Sharp-tailed Grouse, the provincial bird of Saskatchewan. The foliage provides important forage for Mule deer[4] and White-tailed deer.[5] The shrub's thorny branches and thicket forming habit provide a shelter for many small animal species and an ideal nesting site for songbirds.[6] Over the extent of its range, the buffaloberry is an important species in a variety of ecological communities. For example, in the shrub-grassland communities of North Dakota it is found growing with many native grasses, while in riparian woodlands of Montana and Western North Dakota it can be found in plant communities dominated by Green Ash.[7]


Like the Canada Buffaloberry, Sheperdia argentea has been used historically as a food, medicine, and dye.[8] Its various uses including the treatment of stomach troubles and in ceremonies honoring a female's entrance into puberty.[9]

In the Great Basin, the berries were eaten raw and dried for winter use, but more often cooked into a flavoring sauce for bison meat.[10] The buffaloberry has been a staple food to some American Indians, who ate the berries in puddings, jellies, and in raw or dried form.[11] The Gosiute Shoshone name for the plant is añ-ka-mo-do-nûp.[12]

File:Shepherdia argentea range map.png
Native distribution range map.


  1. Germplasm Resources Information Network: Shepherdia argentea
  2. Jepson Flora: Shepherdia argentea
  3. Brand, Mark H. "Shepherdia argentea". UConn Plant Database of Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. University of Connecticut Horticulture. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  4. "Silver Buffaloberry". N.D. Tree Handbook. NDSU Agriculture. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  5. R.J. Mackie, R.F. Batchelor, M.E. Majerus, J.P. Weigand, and V.P. Sundberg. "Silver Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea)". Habitat Management Suggestions for Selected Wildlife Species. Montana State University, Animal and Range Sciences. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  6. "Silver Buffaloberry". United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  7. Esser,, Lora L. AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS "Shepherdia argentea". Fire Effects Information System. USDA Forest Service. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  8. Benfer, Adam. "Buffaloberry". Foods Indigenous to the Western Hemisphere. Kansas University American Indian Health and Diet Project. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  9. "Phytochemical Composition and Metabolic Performance Enhancing Activity of Dietary Berries Traditionally Used by Native North Americans". U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. 23 January 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  10. William C. Sturtevant, ed. (1986). Handbook of North American Indians: Great Basin. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  11. Betty B. Derig and Margaret C. Fuller (2001). Wild Berries of the West. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company. p. 119. ISBN 0-87842-433-4. 
  12. Chamberlin, Ralph Vary (1911). "The Ethno-botany of the Gosiute Indians of Utah". Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association Vol II, part 5. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 

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