Sheferdia: Planting And Care, Reproduction, Species, Useful Properties

The perennial plant Sheferdia is a spreading shrub. It belongs to the Loch family and can be found in the wild in North America. However, it is successfully cultivated in Europe as well.

This shrub is also called "soap berry" or "buffalo berry". Sheferdia and sea buckthorn look almost identical in appearance.

However, fruits of sea buckthorn are less useful and tasty than those of sheferdia. This plant is cultivated in the open ground, and there is nothing difficult in caring for it. With minimal attention from the gardener, this shrub will please him not only with its attractive appearance, but also with a rich harvest. As long as you follow the simple rules of care, you should have no problems growing Sheferdia in your garden.

Properties of Sheferdia

Sheferdia: planting and care, reproduction, species, useful properties

Sheferdia is a perennial shrub that can vary in height from 3 to 7 meters.

Both deciduous forms and evergreens are found in nature. The surface of the thin branches is covered by a rough gray-yellow bark. The entire length of the shoots are strongly branched and have long prickles on their surface. Over time the branches become intertwined and bend toward the soil surface, making the shrub look more like a prickly hedge.

Stems are adorned with rich green short-petioled, supratellated, oval or lanceolate leaves.

The structure of the leaves is fairly dense, and they can vary in length from 40 to 70 millimeters. Either on the underside only or on both surfaces there is a silvery bloom with short scaly hairs.

The shrub blooms in the last days of March and forms spike-like inflorescences consisting of very small axillary florets. The flowers appear on the shrub earlier than the foliage. In the flowering cheferdia, the branches are densely covered with flowers, which are attached to the stems with short pedicels.

Note that this crop is a dicotyledonous one. This means that there are bushes with only female or only male flowers. If you want to not only admire the sheferdia, then you will have to plant at least 2 bushes: male and female. At the same time, experts advise, for one male bush to plant a maximum of 7 to 10 female. Note that the male flowers open a little later than the female ones.

Insects are needed for the flowers to be pollinated. The buds form small, roundish berries after pollination.

The berries are covered by a red skin with a large number of whitish little dots on the surface. They are edible. They have a very delicate sweet and sour tart flesh.

Sheferdia berries are most commonly used to make jellies, jams and compotes, but are eaten fresh infrequently. Knuckles do not fall off the branches until frosts. Frost-killed berries become much sweeter and tastier. Inside a kernel there is a single flattened seed.

Blooming and bearing fruit will not be possible until the third or fourth year of growth.

After full maturity, the berries easily fall off the branches, so harvesting is very easy. One mature shrub can yield about 15 kg of berries a year.

Planning and care of Sheferdia

Sheferdia: planting and care, reproduction, species, useful properties

Gardeners are attracted to Sheferdia by its unpretentiousness and ability to quickly adapt to unfamiliar growing conditions. Any type of soil will do. But if you have heavy soil on the plot, it is better to make gravel or sand into it in order to improve drainage.

When choosing a site for planting, consider that if it will be open and well-lit, the plant will give a rich harvest of sweeter fruits. Any of the species of this plant has excellent winter hardiness, so bushes do not need to be covered for the winter. Even draughts do not harm Sheferdia.


This drought-tolerant plant reacts negatively to stagnant liquid in its roots. As a rule, it does without watering because it gets enough rain.

However, during a long dry spell it should be watered in moderation, especially if it is about to ripen its fruit.


For the shrub to grow and develop properly, the grass should be removed in time and the soil surface loosened. Since the root system is superficial, both weeding and loosening are done with great care.


To make the shrub more attractive, it is systematically cut back. To make it easy to grow and harvest berries, the height of the plant can be limited to 200 cm by trimming it regularly.

Do not forget to cut out unwanted branches regularly; if not pruned, the shoots will soon tangle and bow to the ground.

Breeding methods

Sheferdia: planting and care, reproduction, species, useful properties

Growing from seeds

Sowing Sheferdia seeds directly into the open soil and doing it in late autumn, more precisely in November. They are sunk into the ground to a depth of only 15-30 mm. In winter, the seeds are covered with a thick layer of snow. The first seedlings should appear in the second half of April.

In September, the height of the grown seedlings will be 10-15 centimeters. At this time you can carry out their transplanting to a permanent place. A bush grown from seed will only flower and bear fruit 4-6 years after sprouting.


Most gardeners prefer to propagate Sheferdia by cuttings because in this case you can easily tell if the bush in front of you is female or male. First, cut green cuttings, each of which should have 2 or 3 buds, and their length can vary from 8 to 12 centimeters.

For 24 hours cuttings are placed in a solution of Kornevin, then spend their planting in a substrate consisting of peat and sand, deepening in the earth mixture of 30-40 mm. In the last days of September the planted cuttings should grow roots and then be transplanted to a permanent location.

Separation of root shoots

An adult bush develops several root shoots each year. If necessary, simply dig out the offshoot and repot it. Repotting can be done in March or April, and also in the first days of September.

Sheferdia species with photos

The genus Sheferdia includes only 3 species, described below.

Sheferdia argentea (Shepherdia argentea)

Sheferdia: planting and care, reproduction, species, useful properties

The young branches as well as both leaf plate surfaces have whitish-colored pubescence. This is why the species is named Sheferdia silvery. The height of the shrub, covered with sharp prickles, can reach up to 6 meters. It blooms in the second half of April.

Male bushes form small spike-like inflorescences, while female bushes have single flowers. The fruits ripen in September and turn orange-yellow or red in color.

The Goldeneye variety is very popular among gardeners because of its high decorative value. The berries on this shrub turn a deep yellow color when ripe.

Shepherdia canadensis

Sheferdia: planting and care, reproduction, species, useful properties

This species resembles a small spreading tree in appearance.

The surface of the branches is covered by brown colored bark. The front surface of the foliage is dark green and unfluffed, while the back surface has fine yellow scales and silver pubescence. The shrub blooms around the second decade of April. Its small flowers are yellow with a greenish cast. The oblong fruits ripen in early fall, reaching a length of 0.

4 to 0.8 cm and showing a dark red tint.

Shepherdia rotundifolia

Sheferdia: planting and care, reproduction, species, useful properties

The species is a spreading, strong shrub whose shoots are tightly intertwined with each other. The branches are densely lined with rounded, dense dark green foliage. The surface of the leaves is studded with many warty warts.

The shrub blooms very abundantly and gives a rich harvest. The stems bend down to the ground under the weight of the berries. In the wild, this species is found almost exclusively on the Colorado Plateau.

Sheferdia in landscape design

Growing in the garden, sheferdia attracts attention with its bright berries and silver-colored leaves. It looks most impressive against a background of shrubs with reddish leaf plates (e.

g. yarrow, barberry or wiegela) and also next to coniferous crops. It can be used to create hedges. And to create a nice background in a flower garden, low-growing varieties are used.

Benefits of Sheferdia

Sheferdia: planting and care, reproduction, species, useful properties

Sheferdia fruits contain a great amount of vitamin C and also such beneficial substances as: vitamins P, A and E, organic acids, tannins and pectin.

Eating these healthy berries will help improve your blood vessels, strengthen your immune system, and normalize your blood pressure. Eat these wonderful fruits fresh, and they can also be used to make various sauces, jams, infusions and jams. Such berries can be eaten by everyone, except people with an individual intolerance. Allergy sufferers should also be careful.


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