Shepherdia argentea (Silver Buffaloberry)
|Also known as:|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||sun; open prairie, plains, river bottoms, along streams|
|Bloom season:||April - May|
|Plant height:||6 to 16 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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1 to a few flowers crowded in bud axils of short, one-year-old branches, emerging before the leaves. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants (dioecious), both are dull yellowish, 1/8 to ¼ inch across, very short-stalked, lack petals but have a short-tubular calyx with 4 triangular petal-like lobes. In the center is a ring of 8 yellow nectary glands. Male calyx lobes are longer than the tube and strongly bent back (reflexed), with 8 well extended stamens.
Female calyx lobes are thicker and stiffer than the males, as long as or shorter than the tube, ascending to spreading with a thick, club-like style extending from the center. Upper/inner surfaces are smooth while outer surfaces have a crusty, scale-like covering.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are simple and opposite, oblong to narrowly lance-elliptic, 1¼ to 2 inches long, 1/3 to 2/3 inch wide with a blunt tip and tapered at the base to a short stalk. Edges are toothless, surfaces silvery, the upper with short, silvery scales, lower surface paler, more densely scaly with some of the scales brownish.
Silver Buffaloberry is a shrub of the arid western plains, only extending into western Minnesota. Its rhizomatous roots can form dense, thorny thickets providing cover for wildlife and browse for deer. The fruits are eaten by many bird species and even bears have been found to graze on them. The fruit is edible for humans, though notably tart it is rich in lycopene and anti-oxidants. It is occasionally found in the nursery trade and while it's tolerant of poor soils, its brushy habit limits it use in a lot of landscapes. Sharing its native range is the invasive Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) that is also a small tree or large shrub with silvery foliage. However, its flowers are much larger, brighter yellow and more strongly tubular bell-shaped, its fruit is silvery green and its leaves are alternate rather than opposite.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Silver Buffaloberry plant
- Silver Buffaloberry plants
- Silver Buffaloberry plains habitat
- Silver Buffaloberry branches
- flowering Silver Buffaloberry
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Clay County and in North Dakota. Photos courtesy John Thayer taken in North Dakota.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?