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Shepherdia argentea

Shepherdia argentea (Pursh) Nutt.

Silver Buffaloberry, Buffaloberry

Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster Family)

Synonym(s): Elaeagnus utilis, Lepargyrea argentea


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Silver buffalo-berry is a mound-shaped shrub, 6-20 ft. tall, which sometimes becomes nearly tree-like. The deciduous plant may be single-trunked or have a few short-trunked stems. Twigs are spiny and silvery gray. Foliage is also silvery-gray. Inconspicuous flowers precede a football-shaped berry that is red, orange or yellow. Shrub or small tree with silvery, scaly leaves, young twigs, berries; branches opposite; twigs often spine-tipped.

The berries are edible, but sour, best after frost in November.


From the Image Gallery

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 20 feet tall.
Leaf: White-Gray
Fruit: Red, Orange

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AZ , CA , CO , IA , ID , KS , MI , MN , MT , ND , NE , NM , NV , NY , OR , SD , UT , WI , WY
Canada: AB , MB , SK
Native Distribution: Extreme w. MN & Man. to B.C., s. to KS & MT; also mts. to n. NM & e. CA
Native Habitat: Prairies; banks; ravines

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Rocky, sandy or clayey soils.
Conditions Comments: Silver buffaloberry tolerates the poorest of soils and does well in dry or alkaline situations. It is a low maintenance plant and extremely cold- and drought-tolerant. For fruit set, both male and female plants are required.


Warning: Plant has thorns or prickles.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Plant is best propagated by cuttings. Treated seeds will also work.
Seed Collection: Fruits may be collected by stripping or flailing from the branches. Heavy gloves are necessary to provide protection from the thorns. Seeds can be separated with a macerator and water.
Seed Treatment: Stratify for 60-90 days at 41 degrees. Acid scarification for 20-30 min. proves beneficial.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1991 VOL. 8, NO.3 - Native Plants Provide a Wealth of Foods and Fibers, Letter from the President, A...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Shepherdia argentea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Shepherdia argentea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Shepherdia argentea


Record Modified: 2023-01-02
Research By: TWC Staff

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