E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Shepherdia canadensis (L.) Nutt.
soopolallie (Canadian buffalo-berry; russet buffaloberry; soapberry)
Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Virginia Skilton  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #26202)

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Distribution of Shepherdia canadensis
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Species Information

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Deciduous shrub; stems erect to spreading, young stems brownish-scaled, older branches brownish and scaly, 1-2 m tall.
Opposite, entire, elliptic to narrowly egg-shaped, 1.5-6 cm long, 1-3 cm wide, greenish on the upper surface, white-scaly and brownish-scaly beneath.
Inflorescence of 1 to several inconspicuous axillary flowers clustered on short branches; male and female flowers on separate plants, the male flowers brownish; petals lacking; sepals spreading to reflexed, 4-lobed, the lobes 1-2 mm long; stamens 8.
Berries, bright red, oval, 6-8 mm long, fleshy, bitter, soapy to touch when crushed.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Yellow
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry sites in the lowland and steppe to subalpine zones; common throughout BC except absent on the Queen Charlotte Islands, N Vancouver Island and adjacent N coast; N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to OH, MN, SD, NM and OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Shepherdia canadensis

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 6 1084 2460
Slope Gradient (%) 0 22 262
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 194 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(11), BWBS(940), CDF(2), CWH(15), ESSF(693), ICH(994), IDF(1819), MS(1517), PP(79), SBPS(436), SBS(1251), SWB(120)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, sub montane to subalpine, transcontinental North American deciduous shrub (sporadic in the Pacific region). Occurs predominantly in continental boreal and cool temperate climates on very dry to moderately dry, nitrogen-medium soils; its occurrence increases with increasing continentality. Common in semi-open forests on water-shedding sites; scattered on the leeward side of Vancouver Island; plentiful in the coast-interior ecotone. Often associated with Calamagrostis rubescens, Linnaea borealis, and Paxistima myrslnites. Symbiotic with nitrogen-fixing organisms. Characteristic of continental forests.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Elaeagnus canadensis (L.) A. Nels.
Lepargyrea canadensis (L.) Greene

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References