South Dakota Native Plant Research
Elaeagnaceae : Shepherdia argentea

Elaeagnaceae : Shepherdia argentea


Download Seed: Buffaloberry seed with fruit removed. (55 KB)

Download Seedling: Seedling of buffaloberry grown in research greenhouse at SDSU. (44 KB)

Download Vegetative: Leaves are 7-12 mm wide and 2-5 cm long. (970 KB)

Download Flower buds: Unisexual flowers are found in small clusters. (598 KB)

Download Fruiting: The red fruit is 5-7 mm long. (823 KB)

Download Research garden: Dormant buffaloberry seedling after one seasons growth in research garden at SDSU. (755 KB)

Family Name


Common Name


Native American Name

Dakota: Mashti cha-pute; Lakota: maštíŋčaphuté


Shepherdia argentea is an erect, perennial, deciduous shrub or small tree, growing 2m to 6m in height and forming thickets by root suckers. Young stems are covered in scaley or stellate hairs giving them a white-mealy appearance, becoming gray with age, and 2–3-year-old twigs often end in spines. The simple leaves are opposite, oblong to oblanceolate, 2-5 cm long, 7-12 mm wide, gray green on both the upper and lower surfaces due to a covering of hairs. The margins are entire, the tip blunt and the blade narrowed at the base with a petiole of 3-6 mm. Buffaloberry is dioecious, the flowers in small clusters on 1 year old twigs. Male flowers have 4 sepals fused to a 8-lobed, shallow disk and have 8 stamens, their filament free. The female flowers have 4 sepals fused to a hairy disk that nearly encloses the pistil. The fruit is an ovoid, drupe-like achene, red, juicy and 5–7 mm long. Buffaloberry blooms in May and June and the fruits remain attached into the fall. They grow throughout South Dakota along streambanks, on hillsides and in ravines.

Additional Notes

Buffaloberry fruit are quite tasty, especially after the first frost. They contain high levels of lycopene and other antioxidants. Plants can be started from seed and grow well in most gardens. A small stand is generally the best way to plant them, as at least 1 male plant is needed to produce fruit.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect fruit in late August or September and remove fleshy covering. Store in a cool, dry place.

Germination: The seeds are dormant when collected, Fall sowing or scarification with a file or between sheets of fine sandpaper are required for spring planting.

Vegetative Propagation: separation of root suckers.

Soils: Rocky, sandy, or clayey well drained soils.

Light: Full sun

Water: Moist to mesic.

Elaeagnaceae : Shepherdia argentea