Maštíŋčaphute čháŋ

Maštíŋčaphute čháŋ (literally, rabbit nose bush — inexplicably named Buffalo Berry in English). The leaves are oval-shaped and fuzzy, and the shrub is covered with sharp thorns.

In the fall, the berries will turn red. Some people wait until after the first frost to harvest, because the berries will be sweeter.

I have heard that Europeans have declared Maštíŋčaphute as a new “superfood,” and that it is now getting more difficult to find, due to over-harvesting. So a Maštíŋčaphute čháŋ (buffalo berry bush) is a precious thing to find! They are easier to spot in the fall/early winter, when the bright red berries stand out in the landscape.

I have noticed that in a cluster of Maštíŋčapȟute čháŋ, all of the bushes don’t produce berries at the same time. I wondered if the bushes might have different species, with only female ones bearing fruit, as is true for some other plant species. My teacher, ethnobotanist Linda Black Elk, said that she didn’t think this was the case with these — thought it was more likely that every bush just doesn’t produce berries every year. Some may be recovering from a past big berry output, and elect to save their energy for future years instead.

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