Elaeagnus commutata  Bernh. ex Rydb. – Wolf Willow  - Elaeagnaceae

The seeds of wolf willow, Elaeagnus commutata, were used as beads by the Arapaho, Blackfoot, Cree, Upper Tanana and Thompson Indians.4 This shrub, native to Alaska, western Canada and the northern Great Plains, produces fuzzy-skinned brown berries nearly one-half inch long (1 cm).  In hard winters these boiled fruits were sometimes the only food available.


Once removed from the pulp, the seeds were threaded onto sinew for storing.  They were removed when needed for sewing onto clothes for decoration or to make necklaces.  Some Canadian tribes called them “buffalo beads” because they used them to decorate their clothes and objects made of buffalo skin.  Necklaces of the seeds were often exchanged by newlyweds in the belief that these gifts would ensure health and happiness.5