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:
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
russet red buffaloberry
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. .
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
Russet buffaloberry is endangered in Maine .
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
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].
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood
FRES19 Aspen - birch
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES23 Fir - spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon - juniper
FRES38 Plains grasslands
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
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
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 :
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 ; spruce (Picea spp.) and fir (Abies spp.) in the northern
and far northern Rocky Mountains ; subalpine fir, white spruce (P.
glauca), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and quaking aspen (Populus
tremuloides) in southern British Columbia ; white spruce, lodgepole
pine (Pinus contorta), and quaking aspen in Alberta [29,37]; white
spruce in the Yukon Territory ; 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 .
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
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
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 . Feral horses in western Alberta used it as
a small part of their diet . 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 .
However, in the Black Hills, it was absent from the white-tailed deer
diet for the entire year . Russet buffaloberry provided only 1 to
10 percent of the June to September diet of mule deer in Colorado .
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 . Dormant plants
are used in proportions equal to or greater than their availability
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 .
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
, 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
CO MT ND OR UT WY
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
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 . 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
COVER VALUE :
The degree to which russet buffaloberry provides environmental
protection during one or more seasons for wildlife species is as follows
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 .
A 1979 survey of all Soil Conservation Service, State Conservationists
indicated only one Southwestern state is currently using russet
buffaloberry for amenity plantings . It naturally invaded two of
six subalpine mine sites in Alberta, being rare at one site and abundant
at the other . It was used as a preferred species for revegetation
of three mining sites in Idaho .
Several methods have been tried for propagation of russet buffaloberry.
Vegetative propagation is best accomplished using root cuttings. Stem
cuttings have been unsuccessful . Transplanting containerized
material has been successful in Ontario  and Alaska . 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 . Formation of short
suckers allows a gradual increase in the size of the planting .
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 .
Ornamental: Plants are occasionally grown for ornamental use .
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 .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Wildlife managers plant russet buffaloberry for habitat improvement and
watershed management .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
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) . Plants are
generally dioecious but occasionally monoecious . 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 , and a taproot with no rhizomes .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
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 . Seeds are
disseminated by animals and gravity.
Vegetative: Sprouts arise from both surviving root crowns and dormant
buds on the taproot . However, russet buffaloberry is not very
aggressive in terms of regeneration. It had the lowest aggressive
ability of 20 shrubs and trees in Canada .
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 .
It forms dense thickets along riparian zones and valley bottoms .
In Alaska it is uncommon or locally common in openings and forests of
dry uplands and in aspen forests on old burns . It has been
reported dominating dry, rocky sites in the Mission and Rattlesnake
mountains of Montana . It also dominates the most xerophytic
communities in Banff and Jasper National Parks, Alberta , the driest
sites for tree growth in interior Alaska , and the drier situations
in the Black Hills of South Dakota . 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  and 6,600 to 8,200 feet (2,012-2,499 m) in Idaho .
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 . As succession moves from immature forest to
old-growth forest there is a significant decrease in percent cover of
russet buffaloberry . 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 . Following
fire, russet buffaloberry is found in the first stage of succession (the
seedling/herb stage) which lasts from 1 to 15 years , and remains
after the canopy closes .
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Across its range, russet buffaloberry flowers from April to June, and
the fruits ripen from June to August . 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  and in Alaska plants bloom in early May following snowmelt
. 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 .
The averages of significant phenological dates were reported east and
west of the Continental Divide .
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
. 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 .
FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find Fire Regimes".
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
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Russet buffaloberry is normally fire resistant but can be eliminated by
fire . 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 . 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 .
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 .
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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