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A deciduous shrub, 3 to 12 ft high, with opposite, often spine-tipped branchlets, covered when young with silvery scales. Leaves opposite, oblong, with a rounded apex and wedge-shaped base, 3⁄4 to 2 in. long, 1⁄8 to 5⁄8 in. wide, covered with silvery scales beneath, less so above. Flowers 1⁄4 in. across, produced in small clusters during March from the joints of the previous year’s growth; calyx of four oblong green segments, of little or no beauty. Fruit roundish egg-shaped, 1⁄6 to 1⁄4 in. long, scarlet, acid but edible.
Native of the central United States and bordering parts of Canada; introduced in 1818. As with its ally, Hippophae rhamnoides, it is necessary to have plants of both sexes in order to obtain fruits, but these are rarely developed in this country. There was great confusion in gardens between this shrub and Elaeagnus argentea. The latter was often supplied for it, but is easily distinguished by its invariably alternate, much broader leaves; it is also more ornamental than the Shepherdia, which has not much to recommend it in this country. S. argentea differs from the following species in having narrower leaves with a silvery upper surface, and in the often thorn-tipped twigs.