Buffalo Berry (Shepherdia argentea)

Hippophae argentea.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Buffalo Berry
Shepherdia argentea

The plants can be grown as a hedge[160] and windbreak[229].

A red dye is obtained from the fruit[57, 106, 257].

Because it has a wide-ranging root system, forms thickets and is wind tolerant, it is sometimes planted for erosion control[229].

  • Medicinal Use

    The berries are febrifuge, laxative and stomachic[257]. They have been eaten in the treatment of stomach complaints, constipation and fevers[257].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw or cooked[1, 2, 11, 61, 161, 257]. It can also be dried and used like currants[3, 46]. A tart but pleasant flavour even before a frost[85, 183], it becomes sweeter after frosts[3, 62, 95]. The fruit is also used for making preserves, pies etc[183]. The fruit should be used in moderation due to the saponin content[101]. The fruit is produced singly or in clusters, it is up to 9mm long and contains a single seed[229].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The fruit contains low concentrations of saponins[101]. Although toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – it must not be allowed to dry out[113]. It is best harvested in the autumn and sown immediately in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification[113]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle. If sufficient growth is made it will be possible to plant them out in the summer, otherwise grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in the following spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame sometimes work[113].
Succeeds in an ordinary well-drained moisture retentive soil[1, 3, 11]. Tolerates poor dry soils[200] and maritime exposure[182]. Established plants are drought resistant[182]. A very cold-tolerant plant[229]. Plants rarely produce fruit in Britain[11]. Occasionally cultivated for its edible fruit, there are some named varieties[183]. ‘Xanthocarpa’ has yellow fruits[200]. The fruit is difficult to harvest because the shrub is very thorny[3]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if fruit and seed are required.
Central N. America – Manitoba to New Mexico.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.