Canadian buffaloberry

Leaves of Canada buffaloberry.

Family (English):


Botanical name:

Shepherdia canadensis

All Common Names:

Russet buffaloberry; Canada buffaloberry; Soapberry; Rabbitberry

Family (Botanic):


Season of Interest:

  • Early summer,
  • Mid summer,
  • Late summer

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous,
  • Yellow

Soil Preference:

  • Alkaline soil,
  • Dry soil

Shape or Form:

  • Open,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Slow

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

Best in full sun to part shade.
Tolerates the poorest of soils; does well in dry or alkaline situations. 
Extremely cold- and drought-tolerant once established.

Disease, pests, and problems

Leaf spots, mildew and rust.
May be difficult to find in nurseries.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of dry conditions and salt.

Native geographic location and habitat

Dry, rocky, or moist soils of open forests, thickets, streambanks, dry floodplains, meadows, and disturbed areas.
Upper Midwest and North America,  rare in the Chicago area.

C-Value: 10

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife

When present, fruit attracts birds.

Bark color and texture 

Mature stems are brown and slightly scaly, young twigs are medium brown and covered with brownish, flattened scales. Pith is reddish brown.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, short-stalked leaves, 1/2 to 2 inches long and 1 inch wide.  Leaves are oval to narrowly egg-shaped with entire margins.  The upper surface of leaves is dark green.  The underside has a fuzzy coating of whitish-silver hairs and flaky rust-colored scales that can be rubbed off.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small, inconspicuous flowers appear in clusters before leaves open.
Yellowish-green, funnel-shaped female and brownish-yellow disk-shaped male flowers are borne on separate plants.  

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Requires male and female plants for fruit set. Not showy, but bright red, fleshy, oval-shaped fruits ripen in summer. Edible.

Canadian buffaloberry is a rare Illinois native. A medium-sized shrub with attractive dark green leaves with a silvery underside. Tiny yellow flowers produce red berries. It is not tolerant of summer heat. May be difficult to find in nurseries. "This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research."

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Hedge,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 2,
  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6

Location of Shepherdia canadensis (Canadian buffaloberry) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.