Buffalo Berry

Buffalo Berry

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Buffalo Berry

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Buffalo Berry

Buffalo Berry

Buffalo Berry
Buffalo Berry
Buffalo Berry

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Buffalo Berry

By Robert Laurence

Buffalo Berry. (Shepherdia argenta). Buffalo meat eaten with the tart scarlet berries Shepherdia argenta was a favorite dish of American Indians, which explains how the berries got the name. Later, settlers learned to make a delicious jelly with the oval berries that was customarily served with a haunch of venison, and the wild bush that bore them began to be planted as a windbreak or hedge on the northern plains. Called also the Nebraska currant, the silverleaf, beef suet tree, rabbit berry, and wild oleaster, it was and is highly valued not only for its berries but because the thorny shrub, 10 to 18 feet high, is among the hardiest in cultivation. Shepherdia is named for John Sheperd, a curator of the Liverpool Botanic Garden. It will stand dry, rocky soil and windswept sites, but does best in moist loam similar to its native habitat along river banks. The bush also makes a handsome ornamental with its scarlet berries and small, silvery leaves. Its main drawback is its sharp thorns, which makes berry picking a bit difficult. The smaller thornless Canadian buffalo berry (shepherdia canadensis) could be used in its place but has inferior berries.

Buffalo berry bushes are easily started form seed, suckers, or cuttings, and care for them is minimal. They need only be pruned to keep them under control and require no fertilization at all. Since the species is dioecious-bears flowers of only on sex-both male and female plants must be planted in the same area or bushes wont bear. Berries can be orange or yellow as well as scarlet and their taste improves it the clusters are allowed t o hang on the bush until touched by the first frost. They are made into jelly and can be dried to be used like currants, their flavor similar to a cross between a wild grape and a red currant. Bushes are available from Gurney's.

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Buffalo Berry