Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Shepherdia canadensis


SPECIES: Shepherdia canadensis
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Walkup, Crystal J. 1991 Shepherdia canadensis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : SHECAN SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : SHCA COMMON NAMES : russet buffaloberry buffalo-berry Canadian buffaloberry russet red buffaloberry soapberry soopolallie TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for russet buffaloberry is Shepherdia canadensis (L.) Nutt. (Elaeagnaceae). There is one recognized form which produces only yellow fruit: S. canadensis forma xanthocarpa Rehd. [58]. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : Russet buffaloberry is endangered in Maine [10].


SPECIES: Shepherdia canadensis
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Russet buffaloberry is found from Nova Scotia, southwest across Maine to western New York and northern Ohio, west to the Black Hills of South Dakota and Alaska, avoiding most of the Great Basin.  From Alaska it follows the Rocky Mountains south to Arizona and New Mexico and extends east across northern Canada to Newfoundland.  The northern limits are within the Arctic Circle [6,35,37,50,52,57]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES15  Oak - hickory    FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood    FRES19  Aspen - birch    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES25  Larch    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES29  Sagebrush    FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub    FRES35  Pinyon - juniper    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES44  Alpine STATES :      AK  AZ  CA  CO  ID  ME  MA  MI  MN  MT      NV  NH  NM  NY  OH  OR  PA  SD  UT  VT      WA  WI  WY  AB  BC  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS      ON  PQ  SK  YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     2  Cascade Mountains     4  Sierra Mountains     5  Columbia Plateau     6  Upper Basin and Range     8  Northern Rocky Mountains     9  Middle Rocky Mountains    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    15  Black Hills Uplift KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K002  Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest    K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest    K010  Ponderosa shrub forest    K011  Western ponderosa forest    K012  Douglas-fir forest    K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest    K016  Eastern ponderosa forest    K017  Black Hills pine forest    K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest    K019  Arizona pine forest    K020  Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest    K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest    K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland    K025  Alder - ash forest    K037  Mountain mahogany - oak scrub    K038  Great Basin sagebrush    K052  Alpine meadows and barren    K055  Sagebrush steppe    K056  Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe    K063  Foothills prairie    K064  Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass    K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass    K081  Oak savanna    K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest    K095  Great Lakes pine forest    K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest    K097  Southeastern spruce - fir forest    K098  Northern floodplain forest    K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest    K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest SAF COVER TYPES :      1  Jack pine      5  Balsam fir     15  Red pine     16  Aspen     22  White pine - hemlock     32  Red spruce     33  Red spruce - balsam fir     34  Red spruce - Fraser fir     35  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir     39  Black ash - American elm - red maple     42  Bur oak    107  White spruce    201  White spruce    206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir    208  Whitebark pine    210  Interior Douglas-fir    211  White fir    212  Western larch    216  Blue spruce    217  Aspen    218  Lodgepole pine    219  Limber pine    221  Red alder    230  Douglas-fir - western hemlock    236  bur oak    237  Interior ponderosa pine    238  Western juniper    239  Pinyon - juniper    251  White spruce - aspen SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Russet buffaloberry occurs in the understory of plant communities. Dominant overstory species vary by geographic location and include: subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) and ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) in Montana [37]; spruce (Picea spp.) and fir (Abies spp.) in the northern and far northern Rocky Mountains [8]; subalpine fir, white spruce (P. glauca), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in southern British Columbia [54]; white spruce, lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), and quaking aspen in Alberta [29,37]; white spruce in the Yukon Territory [37]; quaking aspen in interior Alaska [37,57]; and old-growth lodgepole pine with a mixture of Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and subalpine fir in Colorado [1]. Russet buffaloberry occurs as a dominant or subdominant in the following habitat type (hts) and community type (cts) classification systems: Area                    Classification          Authority CO:  Arapaho and        forest hts              Hess and Alexander 1986       Roosevelt NF             White River and    grassland, shrubland,   Hess and Wasser 1982       Arapaho NF         and forest hts      Rout NF            forest hts              Hoffman and Alexander 1980 MT                      forest hts              Pfister, Kovalchick,                                                 Arno, and Presby 1977 WY:  Bighorn Mts.       forest hts              Hoffman and Alexander 1976      Wind River Mts.    forest hts              Reed 1976 Intermountain Region                  aspen cts               Mueggler 1988                                                


SPECIES: Shepherdia canadensis
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Russet buffaloberry provides only fair forage for sheep and poor forage for cattle and horses [35].  Feral horses in western Alberta used it as a small part of their diet [47].  Mule deer, white-tailed deer, and elk use has been rated from fair to good [35,37,59,60], with one Montana study listing it as a key food source of white-tailed deer [14]. However, in the Black Hills, it was absent from the white-tailed deer diet for the entire year [24].  Russet buffaloberry provided only 1 to 10 percent of the June to September diet of mule deer in Colorado [59]. Snowshoe hares utilize russet buffaloberry as browse, but it is not preferred [39,49].  Bighorn sheep use it as a low-preference shrub, with moderate to heavy use of new growth in early June [51].  Dormant plants are used in proportions equal to or greater than their availability [44]. Wildlife use berries more frequently than browse.  Black bears, grizzly bears, and grouse make substantial use of them in the fall [33,37,42,55,57].  Berries provide the major food from midsummer until frost for black bears in the Yukon Territory [32]. PALATABILITY : Palatability of russet buffaloberry browse is considered poor; it is usually utilized only in the absence of other browse.  It is listed as unpalatable to both mule deer and white-tailed deer in the Black Hills [16], and to moose in British Columbia and Wyoming [7,16].  Extensive use of the berries indicates their high palatability. The relish and degree of use shown by livestock and wildlife species for russet buffaloberry in several western states is rated as follows [7,11,14,16,59]:                         CO      MT      ND      OR      UT      WY   Browse Cattle                 Poor    Poor    Poor    Poor    Poor    Fair Sheep                  Poor    Fair    Fair    Fair    Fair    Fair Horses                 Poor    Poor    Poor    Poor    Poor    Fair Pronghorn              Fair    Fair    Fair    Fair    Poor    Poor Bighorn                Poor    Poor    Poor    Poor    Poor    Poor Elk                    Poor    Poor    Poor    Poor    Fair    Fair Moose                  Poor    Poor    Poor    Poor    Poor    Poor Mule deer              ----    Poor    Poor    Poor    Good    Fair White-tailed deer      Poor    Good    Poor    Poor    Fair    Poor   Fruit Small mammals          Good    Good    Good    Good    Fair    Good Small nongame birds    Fair    Fair    Fair    Fair    Fair    Good Upland game birds      Good    Good    Good    Good    Fair    Fair Waterfowl              ----    Good    Good    Good    Poor    Poor      Grizzly bear           ----    Good    ----    ----    ----    Good Black bear             Good    Good    Good    Good    Good    Good NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Russet buffaloberry browse has one of the highest protein values, but its low palatability warrants a low food value rating [7,16].  Chemical analyses indicate a high total sugar content in the browse, which should make it palatable.  Cyanide, which animals avoid, may be present, but this has not been verified by chemical analysis [16].  Another problem may be the phosphorus:calcium ratio.  Less than 1:5 is poor, due to calcium's inhibition of phosphorus uptake.  Leaves have a 1:6 ratio, stems have a 1:10 ratio and fruit has a 1:1 ratio.  This makes the fruit the only palatable portion.  Carotenoids (0.97 percent of the fruit's dry weight) provide a source of vitamins to wildlife using the berries [37]. COVER VALUE : The degree to which russet buffaloberry provides environmental protection during one or more seasons for wildlife species is as follows [11]:                         UT     CO     WY     MT Elk                    Fair   ----   Fair   Poor Mule deer              Fair   ----   Good   Fair White-tailed deer      ----   Good   Fair   ---- Pronghorn              Poor   ----   Poor   ---- Upland game birds      Fair   ----   Good   Good Waterfowl              Poor   ----   Poor   Poor Small nongame birds    Good   Fair   Good   Good Small mammals          Fair   Fair   Good   Fair VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Russet buffaloberry is desirable for revegetating disturbed sites because it is native, provides food and cover for wildlife, and is a nitrogen-fixing plant.  Its nitrogen-fixing ability allows it to grow in soils with low amounts of mineral nitrogen, which are common in disturbed areas.  It also enhances the growth of associated species by producing "an island of fertility" around its perimeter [61]. A 1979 survey of all Soil Conservation Service, State Conservationists indicated only one Southwestern state is currently using russet buffaloberry for amenity plantings [13].  It naturally invaded two of six subalpine mine sites in Alberta, being rare at one site and abundant at the other [46].  It was used as a preferred species for revegetation of three mining sites in Idaho [43]. Several methods have been tried for propagation of russet buffaloberry. Vegetative propagation is best accomplished using root cuttings.  Stem cuttings have been unsuccessful [27].  Transplanting containerized material has been successful in Ontario [61] and Alaska [9].  Seeds are very susceptible to greenhouse pathogens and have limited germination ability [See Regeneration Processes], making root cuttings a better method of propagating containerized material [9].  Formation of short suckers allows a gradual increase in the size of the planting [61]. Direct planting of properly scarified seeds may be successful but has not been reported in the literature. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Food:  Native Americans either pressed the berries into cakes, which were smoked and eaten, or mixed them with water and beat them to make a frothy dessert [57]. Ornamental:  Plants are occasionally grown for ornamental use [37]. Medicinal:  The Salish and Kootenai tribes boiled debarked branches and used the solution as an eyewash.  The Sioux boiled the roots, strained them through cloth and the tea to cure diarrhea [37]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Wildlife managers plant russet buffaloberry for habitat improvement and watershed management [37].


SPECIES: Shepherdia canadensis
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Russet buffaloberry is a native, deciduous, nitrogen-fixing shrub ranging in height from 3 to 13 feet (0.9-3.9 m) [5].  Plants are generally dioecious but occasionally monoecious [52].  Fruits are drupelike, ovoid achenes enveloped in a fleshy perianth which turns yellowish red to bright red when ripe [6,50,54].  Roots have been variously reported as rhizomatous with relatively deep underground parts, fibrous and shallow [37], and a taproot with no rhizomes [34]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual:  Seed production begins at 4 to 6 years of age, with good seed crops generally produced every year after that.  The small, hard seed shows poor, highly erratic, or delayed germination.  Cold stratification for a minimum of 60 days appears to be a requirement for embryo development [34,53].  Sulfuric acid scarification for 20 to 30 minutes resulted in 72 to 80 percent germination [53].  Seeds are disseminated by animals and gravity. Vegetative:  Sprouts arise from both surviving root crowns and dormant buds on the taproot [38].  However, russet buffaloberry is not very aggressive in terms of regeneration.  It had the lowest aggressive ability of 20 shrubs and trees in Canada [17].   SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Russet buffaloberry is generally found on sandy, gravelly, or rocky soils, and is able to thrive on nutrient-poor soils due to its nitrogen-fixing ability [5,57].  Nodulation is variable and appears to be most abundant in nutrient-poor, sandy soils [37,57].  Russet buffaloberry grows on shores, riverbanks, dry slopes, moist north slopes, open rocky woods, and occasionally in calcareous marshes [50]. It forms dense thickets along riparian zones and valley bottoms [37]. In Alaska it is uncommon or locally common in openings and forests of dry uplands and in aspen forests on old burns [57].  It has been reported dominating dry, rocky sites in the Mission and Rattlesnake mountains of Montana [37].  It also dominates the most xerophytic communities in Banff and Jasper National Parks, Alberta [29], the driest sites for tree growth in interior Alaska [57], and the drier situations in the Black Hills of South Dakota [21].  Other sources have described it as mesophilic and occurring on moist north slopes [3,37]. Elevations have been reported from 4,950 to 5,250 feet (1,500-1,600 m) in Alberta [46] and 6,600 to 8,200 feet (2,012-2,499 m) in Idaho [43]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Russet buffaloberry occurs as a dominant with willow (Salix spp.) in the second stage of succession on glacial moraines between Alaska and the Yukon Territory [4].  As succession moves from immature forest to old-growth forest there is a significant decrease in percent cover of russet buffaloberry [2].  It is also a dominant species in the climax vegetation of ponderosa pine forests and hardwood climax forests on alluvial floodplains along major rivers in Montana [45].  Following fire, russet buffaloberry is found in the first stage of succession (the seedling/herb stage) which lasts from 1 to 15 years [19], and remains after the canopy closes [3]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Across its range, russet buffaloberry flowers from April to June, and the fruits ripen from June to August [37].  In Saskatchewan, anthesis begins in mid to late April, 3 to 7 days earlier in pistillate plants than in staminate plants.  Bloom occurs in late April to early May in Ontario [51] and in Alaska plants bloom in early May following snowmelt [57].  Fruits mature during July in all three areas.  Shoot elongation was visible in Saskatchewan from the last week of April, 3 to 5 days after anthesis, until the end of June.  The majority of growth occurs from early May until mid-June [20]. The averages of significant phenological dates were reported east and west of the Continental Divide [48].            Leaf     Leaves                                        Buds     Full                    Fruits     Seed        Leaf            Burst    Grown     Flowering      Ripe      Fall        Drop East       5/17     6/25      5/14-5/29      7/28    8/05-9/11   9/10-10/01 West       5/19     6/14      5/15-6/03      7/09        -       9/11-10/04


SPECIES: Shepherdia canadensis
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Sprouting from surviving root crowns and establishment from seed transported from off-site allow russet buffaloberry to survive fire [38].  As fire suppression culminates in closed-canopy, old-growth forests, fire generally increases russet buffaloberry density and vigor, although full benefits may not be realized for at least 25 years [37]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Tall shrub, adventitious-bud root crown


SPECIES: Shepherdia canadensis
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Severe fires will consume all aboveground leaves and stems of russet buffaloberry, while light to moderate fires will leave some stems standing [37]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Russet buffaloberry is normally fire resistant but can be eliminated by fire [34].  As a result it is classified as moderately resistant to burning [34,38].  Following a Montana wildfire, regrowth of buffaloberry was slow; 4 to 5 years were required for 25 percent of the eventual crown size to be obtained [30].  Recurrent, low-intensity ground fires are closely linked to maintaining russet buffaloberry density and vigor in stands with lodgepole pine and quaking aspen overstories, and dry upland meadows where it dominates the shrub layer [37]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : Following an intense wildfire in Colorado, essentially all aboveground vegetation in the perimeter died.  The fire was the most intense where dominated by lodgepole pine, with lower intensities in areas dominated by subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce.  Russet buffaloberry increased rapidly following this fire due to sprouting from surviving roots. A combination of delayed sprouting and seeds originating from outside the burn was hypothesized to be responsible for an increase in frequency over the study period.  Three years after the fire, russet buffaloberry was mainly found on sites with a somewhat lower slope, a higher prefire tree basal area, and a higher number of prefire tree stems per acre. These factors appear to be conducive to russet buffaloberry establishment and growth [3]. The Research Project Summary Vegetation response to restoration treatments
in ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir forests of western Montana
provides information
on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including
russet buffaloberry, that was not available when this species review was written. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Low- to moderate-intensity fires may increase vigor and density of russet buffaloberry in old-growth stands.  Berry production may also be increased for several years after fire [3,37].


SPECIES: Shepherdia canadensis
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