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Shepherdia canadensis (Russet buffaloberry)
Beckers, Eric

Shepherdia canadensis

Shepherdia canadensis (L.) Nutt.

Russet Buffaloberry, Rabbitberry

Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster Family)

Synonym(s): Elaeagnus canadensis, Lepargyrea canadensis


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

A small, loosely branched shrub of rounded outline, usually 4-8 ft. high and equally as wide, with thick, leathery, gray-green to russet-green foliage. Small, inconspicuous, yellow flowers are followed by yellowish-red, oval-shaped fruits. The orange-dotted white bark give the branches a rusty appearance. Branches opposite; young twigs brownish, scaly.

Deer and Elk consume the foliage of this shrub, while Grizzly and Black Bears consume the berries.


From the Image Gallery

5 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 10 feet tall, often shorter.
Leaf: White-Gray
Fruit: Red or yellow.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul


USA: AK , AZ , CA , CO , ID , IL , IN , ME , MI , MN , MT , ND , NM , NV , NY , OH , OR , PA , SD , UT , VT , WA , WI , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , QC , SK , YT
Native Distribution: Nf. to AK, s. to ME, PA, Great Lakes, s. Man., CO Rockies, ID & OR; occurs locally in n. Great Plains
Native Habitat: Moist slopes; wooded, rocky hillsides; conifer openings

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Adaptable, but prefers moist, rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Tolerates the poorest of soils; does well in dry or alkaline situations. Low maintenance. Extremely cold- and drought-tolerant. For fruit set both male and female plants are required.


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. 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.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants 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:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-10-21
Research By: TWC Staff

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