How to Grow Buffaloberry Shepherdia argentea – Buffaloberry Shepherdia argentea is an edible and medicinal shrub or small tree that some claim is high in antioxidants. It is native to northern and western North America and is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 7.
Buffaloberry Shepherdia argentea is a loosely branched shrub that has thorns and it grows to a height and width up to 14 feet and has a suckering habit and thicket-forming. It likes full sun and is drought tolerant but likes moist well-drained soils. Even in an environment well suited for the plant, it grows slowly.
This deciduous shrub has foliage that is silvery gray in color on both top and bottom. The leaves are 1 to 2 inches long and about 3/8 inch wide.
Buffaloberry has male and female plants and you need one male plant for every four to six female plants. They are a non-legume nitrogen fixer, meaning they take nitrogen out of the atmosphere and put it in the soil.
Buffaloberry Shepherdia argentea flower in late April. The male plants have yellow flowers, while the female plants have less conspicuous flowers.
Fruit of this plant is a dark shade of red with white dots on them and are rough to the touch. They have a drupe-like shape and are ¼ inch long with one seed. The fruit will ripen by late summer and if not picked will stay on the bush into the winter.
Buffaloberry Shepherdia argentea can be propagated by seed, softwood cutting, and suckers. Cold stratify seeds for 90 days. Softwood cuttings do well with a mist system.
The fruit is used in jelly, jam, or syrup, soups or can be dried and stored. Most noteworthy, a touch of frost will sweeten the berries.
“Buffalo berry was commonly employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes, who used it in the treatment of a range of complaints. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. A poultice of the bark, softened by hot water and mixed with pin cherry bark (Prunus pensylvanica), has been used to make a plaster or bandage for wrapping broken limbs. An infusion of the bark has been used as a wash for sore eyes. The roots are antihaemorrhagic and cathartic. An infusion of the roots has been used as an aid to childbirth and in the treatment of tuberculosis and the coughing up of blood.
A decoction of the stems has been used as a stomach tonic (it was also used to treat stomach cancer) and also in the treatment of constipation, high blood pressure and venereal disease. If you do a decoction of the stems and leaves it has been used as a wash in the treatment of sores, cuts and swellings. A decoction of the plant has been used externally as a wash and rub for aching limbs, arthritic joints, head and face sores. The inner bark is laxative. An infusion has been used in the treatment of constipation. The berries have been eaten as a treatment for high blood pressure. The fruit juice has been drunk in the treatment of digestive disorders. It has also been applied externally in the treatment of acne and boils.” *
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
1 quart ripe buffaloberries
½ c water
2 c sugar
¼ tsp butter
Wash, sort and stem berries.
Place in deep saucepan or jelly kettle and bring to a boil, stirring often.
Simmer for 10 minutes, then mash with a potato masher.
Simmer an additional 5 minutes.
Run through a food mill or jelly bag. You may have to mash juice out of the jelly bag with your hands to fully discharge — there should be about 2 cups of milky juice.
Measure fruit juice and add boiling water through pulp to make a full two cups. Pour into deep pot, on medium-high.
Add sugar and stir well.
Add butter (reduces foaming) and bring to a boil. If adding pectin, do so once it has begun to boil.
Boil hard for 1 minute while stirring constantly.
Ladle into hot canning jars, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Jelly will turn darker, ranging from peach to orangey-red as it processes. It will not be clear, but resemble honey.
Photo1: By SriMesh (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo2: Shepherdia argentia (“Silver Buffaloberry”), photo taken near Reno, Nevada.