Shepherdia canadensis (L.) Nutt.
Unarmed, spreading 1-2 m tall shrub. Branches grey-brown covered with small, bran-like scabs on older stems and rusty spots on young growth. Leaves deciduous, opposite, oval, 2-6 cm long, dark green on upper surface and whitish/silvery felt of hairs and rusty brown scales on underside. Flowers inconspicuous (1-2 mm long), yellow-brown in colour. Male and female flowers on separate plants. Fruits bright red, translucent, oval, juicy berries. Berries are extremely bitter to the taste and soapy to the touch (Pojar et al.). Photo by Dave Polster.
Canadian buffalo-berry, soapberry
Dry to moist open woods and thickets from lowlands to middle elevations. More common east of the Cascades, but also in the drier forests of the Puget Lowlands.
Coarse-textured well-drained soils.
Tolerates poorer soils because of its nitrogen-fixing ability.
soil reaction salinity
Prefers neutral to mildly alkaline soils.
Moist to dry soils. Drought tolerant.
Full sun to light shade.
Climax in semi-open forests. Pioneer on disturbed sites.
bec zone subzone status
Scattered throughout Coastal Douglas-fir zone. Occurs with Garry oak on limestone soils. More common in the British Columbia Interior where it is widely distributed.
Good candidate for reclamation plantings because of its drought tolerance and nitrogen-fixing ability.
Berries are eaten by black bears and grizzly bears, small mammals and birds.
Tough hedge when established. Attractive bark and showy red berries.
Berries whipped to form "Indian ice cream" which was sweetened with salal berries, camas bulbs or hemlock cambium.
fruit ripening time
July - August
seed collection time
July - August
no seeds per kg
49% to 75%
collection and abstraction
Fruit collected when ripe and juicy. Macerated in water immediately after collection (excessive foaming makes extraction time-consuming). Spread seeds in a thin layer to dry (Rose et al., 1998).
Store at 5º C and 6-10% moisture content. Seeds viable in storage for three years or more.
fruit seed dormancy treatment
Seeds exhibit both embryo and mild seed-coat dormancy. Seeds thus benefit from light scarification. Before stratification soak seeds for 24 hours at room temperature. Cold-stratify seeds in moist vermiculite for 60 days (range 30 to 90). Watch for germination after 40 days (S. Bastin, personal communication). Sow stratified seeds in late spring (temperatures 30º C day, 20º C night) and watch for germination in 10 to 20 days.
|Method||Success Rate||Time of Collection|
|Softwood cuttings||Information not available|
|Semi-hardwood cuttings||15% to 27% when cuttings were treated with 1000 to 3000 ppm IBA rooting hormone. 67 % when treated with 8000 ppm IBA rooting hormone (Luna et al., 2002).||Early May as leaf buds begin to break dormancy (Luna et al., 2002).|
|Hardwood cuttings||Information not available|
|Root cuttings||Good||February - March|
|Layering||Possible||Autumn (Rose, Chachulski, and Haase, 1998)|
additional info and photos
For more information and pictures, visit the E-Flora BC website at www.eflora.bc.ca.