Today I planted about 30 Silver Buffalo-berry (Shepherdia argentea) seeds. They are not native to my county but are native to the far northwest corner of New Mexico.
The native range includes part of Canada, North and South Dakota, plus pockets all over the western mountain states. Perhaps it once had a solid range and is retreating; or perhaps it has been spread by birds into favorable niches.
Silver Buffalo-berry’s cousin the Russet Buffalo-berry ( Shepherdia canadensis) is native to Santa Fe County, but I have not seen it.
If the seeds are viable and sprout, I will add them to my food forest and hope they naturalize. I will also keep an eye open for the Russet Buffalo-berry.
Several things recommend them as a “try.” The drupes are rich in antioxidants and they get sweeter after frost so they are a winter fruit when little else is available. Mule deer browse their twigs. Improving winter forage for mule deer, small mammals, and birds strengthens my circular economy. It is an attractor for grouse if any are close enough to notice. Wakeful bears could eat the berries.
Silver Buffalo-berry fixes nitrogen in the soil for its own use and for other plants, addressing a serious hole in my circular economy.
I need to create a windbreak across the western windy side of my property to soften some of the weather extremes for my home, garden, and food forest. Silver Buffalo-berry is commonly used as a windbreak in its natural range.
Spines make it a protected nesting site for songbirds and small mammals.
In all I am thrilled to have the seeds and hope for baby trees soon.