Silver Buffaloberry (Argentea)

The Silver Buffaloberry (Argentea) is generally described as a perennial tree or shrub. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The Silver Buffaloberry (Argentea) has white-gray foliage and inconspicuous yellow flowers, with an abuncance of conspicuous red fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Silver Buffaloberry (Argentea) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Silver Buffaloberry (Argentea) will reach up to 18 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 18 feet.

The Silver Buffaloberry (Argentea) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -38°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Windbreaks: Plant silver buffaloberry in the outer rows of multi-row plantings when supplemental moisture is available. This species has potential for single-row plantings where a low, dense barrier is desired.

Wildlife: The thorny thickets formed by the shrub create ideal cover for numerous bird and animal species. It is preferred nesting site for many songbirds. Some birds eat the fruit although it is not relished by a wide variety of species.

Recreation and Beautification: The thorns and suckering habit of this species must be taken into consideration when planning its use in recreation areas. The fruit is highly prized for making jelly.

General Characteristics

Shepherdia argentea (Pursh) Nutt., silver buffaloberry, is a deciduous, thorny shrub or small tree of 6 to 20 feet in height native to North America. It occurs as scattered to frequent plants along streams, in bottomlands, and on moist hillsides throughout western Wyoming and Colorado at elevations to 7,500 feet. The shrub is winter hardy and alkaline tolerant, but has only limited drought and shade tolerance. Under favorable conditions, it readily forms thorny thickets.

Fruits are reddish, globe-shaped “berries” (drupes) about 1/8 to 1/4 inch across; flowers are brownish-yellow, small, with male and female flowers borne on separate plants in clusters of 1 to 3 at the leaf axils; leaves are opposite, silvery-scurfy, oblong and entire, up to 2 inches long; stems are thorny, silvery-scurfy when young, brownish in age; roots are shallow and much branched, readily sprouting.

Required Growing Conditions

This species is adapted to elevations below 7,500 feet and 15 to 20 inches of precipitation equivalent; it requires supplemental moisture in low precipitation zones.

Cultivation and Care

Prepare a weed free site for planting.

General Upkeep and Control

Planted areas should be kept free of weeds during the first 2 years of establishment. Care should be taken to prevent suckers from taking root in unwanted areas around homes and agricultural systems. Over-sprouting can be controlled mechanically or through the use of approved herbicides.

Pests and Potential Problems This species may be subject to a heart rot disease which can cause serious problems. There are no known serious insect problems.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) Seedlings of silver buffaloberry are available from most hardwood commercial nurseries. ‘Sakakawea’ (Canada) was developed by the Bismarck, ND Plant Materials Center and released in 1984.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Tree, Shrub
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Spring
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Multiple Stem
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Intermediate
Height When Mature 18
Vegetative Spread Rapid
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -38
Soil Depth for Roots 24
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing Yes
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5.3–8 pH
Precipitation Range 15–15 inches/yr
Planting Density 300–1800 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 24
Minimum Frost-Free Days 110 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Medium
CaCO3 Tolerance High
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant No

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA