Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 07/17/2013


Photo taken on July 16, 2013


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Keywords

nature
Canada Buffaloberry
Brown-Lowery Provincial Park
Alberta
Canada
shrub
berry
fruit
red
Shepherdia canadensis


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What the bears love to eat

What the bears love to eat
Photographed this bright red Canada Buffaloberry fruit at Brown-Lowery Provincial Park today, 16 July 2013. It's roughly a 45-minute drive for me, SW of Calgary. On the way, I noticed that a Wilson's Snipe was "waiting for me" and it looked beautiful with purplish grasses in the background. Just had to stop and take a few shots, hoping it wouldn't make me later than I wanted.

"Fruits are extensively collected by some Canadian First Nations peoples such as Nlaka'pamux (Thompson), St'at'imc (Lillooet) and Secwepemc (Shuswap) in the province of British Columbia. The bitter berries are not eaten directly but rather processed as sxusem ("sxushem", also xoosum/"hooshum") or "Indian ice-cream". Branches bearing fruit are hit with a stick and only the very ripe fruits that fall off are collected. A clean mat or tarpaulin is placed below the bush for collection. The berries are later placed into a great bowl that is absolutely free of oil or fat and are mixed with some sweet fruit such as raspberries. The mixture of berries is crushed and vigorously beaten in the manner of whipping cream in order to raise the typical foam of the confection. The berry is sweet and bitter possibly comparable to that encountered in sweetened coffee. The substance is believed by the First Nations peoples who prepare it to have many healthful properties, but the saponin chemicals making up the foam may also cause gastrointestinal irritation if consumed greatly. Native theme restaurants in British Columbia have occasionally had sxusem on the menu in recent years." From Wikipedia.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepherdia_canadensis

"Buffaloberry are somewhat unusual in that there are both male and female plants. The flowers are inconspicuous, looking like small yellow growths that emerge below the new leaves.

In late-July or early-August, the berries begin to ripen. Only the female plants will bear fruit. They are round, approximately 4-6 mm (.25 in) in diametre, and vary from bright red to orange (occasionally yellow) They are also somewhat translucent.

If you learn to identify only one plant in the Canadian Rockies, make it this one. The new millennium brought with it a high incidence of bear encounters throughout the eastern slopes, all because of a bumper crop of buffaloberry. Once the berries ripen, this becomes the most important plant for bears within the northern Rockies. Any trail with an abundance of buffaloberries will also have bears. Try to avoid heavily berried trails in August and September, or at the very least make a lot of noise while hiking in such locales. Remember, an adult grizzly may eat upwards of 200,000 buffaloberries every day during this period. They may also get so engrossed in feeding that they do not hear you approach. Make sure you make lots of noise."

www.mountainnature.com/Plants/PlantsLatinNameResult.asp?ID=69

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Comments
LeapFrog
LeapFrog
Excellent lighting and brilliant reds ... well taken and presented too ... many cultures including our Native culture use the "sweet & sour" process for food ... if not poisonous, make it edible ... LOL!!
5 years ago.
Cats 99
Cats 99
This is a lovely capture of a beautiful bright red buffaloberry. Interesting information about this plant and great advice about the bears. Though I don't mind seeing a bear from a safe location, I generally am happier not running into them.
5 years ago.