Buffaloberry Shepherdia canadensis
Family: Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster)
Branching: Opposite
Other names: Soopolallie, Soapberry, Canada Buffaloberry, Russet Buffaloberry

This shrub is uncommon in Ontario, though it is in other parts of the continent.  At a first glance from a distance, it resembles a Viburnum (like Nannyberry or Wild-raisin) since it has long, naked and opposite buds.  But as soon as you look closer you notice the distinctive twigs and buds that are covered in brown and silver "scales", almost like a snake's skin.  These look just like those of Autumn-olive, though that species has alternate branching while Buffaloberry is opposite.  The flowers are small and occur in the leaf axils.  In the winter these are visible as small spherical buds.  There are other species in the Shepherdia genus that typically grow farther south; mainly Silver Buffaloberry (Sheperdia argentea) which is taller, more silver, and very spiny.

Winter twig of Buffaloberry.  Notice the similarity to Nannyberry or Wild-raisin.

Close view of the lateral buds

Another view of the winter twig

Lateral buds

Lateral buds are often stalked

The small spherical flower buds

A dead leaf still attached to the shrub

Middle-aged bark

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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