Viewing comments posted by HighDesertNatives

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[ Silver Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea) | Posted on August 13, 2020 ]

I am always excited to discover an ornamental North American native plant, in this case a shrub, Shepherdia argentea, which is cold hardy, drought tolerant, and prefers fine textured soils. Its native range extends from the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta thru parts of Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Montana south to New Mexico and west to California at elevations to 7,500 feet. It's hardy to at least -50°F (-45.6°C). It's drought tolerant with minimum precipitation requirements of 12 – 14 inches per year and has moderate alkali (high pH) and salt-tolerance. Although it would not perform great in heavy clay, Silver Buffaloberry does actually prefer fine textured to coarser textured soils, as long as they are reasonably free-draining (like silt and clay loams).
The female plants have attractive, edible, translucent orange-red drupe-like fruit in the summer and into fall. And the plant is a reliable nitrogen fixer. It is only moderately thorny, with a single thorn at the tip of some branches. S. argentea is dioecious, having male and female blossoms on separate plants, so typically you'd need two males and one female in your landscape for fruit set and fertile seed. Both male and female flowers are relatively inconspicuous but they are bee pollinated and provide an early source of bee food when they flower in late April.
Its common name, Buffaloberry, comes from its seasonal use by Native Americans and early pioneers who mixed S. argentea fruit with dried Buffalo meat and tallow to make pemmican, a staple in their diets. Pemmican can generally last from one to five years without refrigeration, but there are anecdotal stories of pemmican stored in cellars being safely consumed after a decade or more. Today, Silver Buffaloberry fruit is used to make jam.

[ Sticky Geranium (Geranium viscosissimum) | Posted on February 16, 2019 ]

Like many other plants with sticky leaf surfaces, sticky geranium is protocarnivorous; it is able to dissolve insects that become trapped on its leaf surface and absorb the nitrogen derived from this protein. This characteristic helps G. viscosissimum survive and thrive in nutrient-poor environments.

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