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In praise of the saskatoon / serviceberry / juneberry aka Amelanchier alnifolia  RSS feed

 
steward
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Location: Missoula, MT
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All things Amelanchier alnifolia - common names include saskatoon, serviceberry, or juneberry

https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Amelanchier+alnifolia

Their root systems are amazingly deep and resilient, so if a saskatoon has volunteered on your property, you can bet it will survive all kinds of extreme conditions.

This is a photo of saskatoon berries on the north side of our north paddock. It's never been watered there, and is thoroughly choked by ninebark bushes. The nice thing about being on the north side of a north fence is that the berries ripen later than the others on the property - season extension via micro-climate!



A friend was talking to Paul and he said, 'I have this serviceberry bush over here, and I was reading about how great these saskatoons are in this plant catalog. I'm going to replace the serviceberry with a saskatoon!'
Paul said, 'you know those are the same thing, right?'
((mic drop))


This is one of the very first pictures I took back in spring of 2013 when Paul bought the two pieces of land that make up wheaton labs. I was enchanted by these lovely blossoms!



We have these threads in other places on permies about saskatoons:
Serviceberry Tree
Hawthorn and Serviceberry/Shadbush/Saskatoon hedge
use of serviceberry wood
Saskatoon berry monoculture to permaculture conversion possible?
Strawberry, Saskatoon, Bush Cherry project
Disease on Juneberry

I love the flavor of the berries. They are now my favorite berry to use in scones after I made these in the rocket oven:



The next two pictures are from Victor's post here:


~~~~~~

What other bits and bobs might you have about this wonderful plant?


 
pollinator
Posts: 240
Location: Western Washington
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I've been on a pollinator kick lately, and I hear serviceberry is great for bees and other insects. I'm really excited about how drought tolerant it is too. That's also a big thing for me
 
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I have had the worst luck with them.  It's the only thing I remember planting that I can't get to grow well.  The rabbits snip them off if I don't fence them.  The ones I fence have grown to about 2 feet after 5 years...  I'm going to try some in a new spot and see if they do better.  
 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
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Paul isn't as thrilled with the flavor of saskatoon as I am. They are a little different. A little less sweet, with seeds, though as I said above, I love them.

We have so many around here, though the birds some times get the good ones first, or in a severe drought there can be fewer, smaller berries. One year, I completely missed them (due to my attention being usurped by workshops and accounting)! I'd love more bushes around, closer to the house so I'd be more likely to notice when they're ready.

Though now I've noticed the older bushes have some sort of blight, rust or leaf spot that can affect the berries, too, making them less tasty. I might take that up in the Disease on Juneberry thread (the initial post in that thread might have been about a pest). Another good reason, IMHO, to plant more here. Maybe some will be more resistant, or not be as affected if they are in a location that they like.

I posted a few more pics of a huge service berry branch and what we did with it here.

And Paul is updating his spoon carving adventures in the use of serviceberry wood thread.

 
pollinator
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Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6b
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At our site they (named cultivars) did not receive any particular care and it took more than 7 years to grow to a solid size and give a good crop.

The bees work them... to some extent. They are not a big hit but not useless either. I guess this is also very dependant on how many one has planted in a single spot because bees much prefer larger targets.

The birds like them a lot. So does our dog.

The berries are excellent for fresh eating but, to my taste, somewhat questionable for further use in cooking / infusing. That's because the marzipan taste of the seeds becomes overwhelming. But I guess one day we'll have a visitor that really likes marzipan and will be overjoyed to try something like that :)

 
steward
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I grew up in northern British Columbia, and Saskatoons were our main berry. I love them. Pie, jam, syrup, fresh from the bush. Yum.
 
pollinator
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Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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I love them. I have three different species around. As mentioned the bees work them but they are not mobbed.

There are the A. canadensis, which are native here and I transplant them from the woods when they look healthy if I am clearing. Berries tend to be small, but that could be that they are wild berries. They are quite hardy, I have run them over and bushhogged them by mistake and they mostly come back. They never seem to get many fruit due to the cedars around here, but it must be intermittent because they are common understory plants and there must have been seeds and fruit at some point! The few fruits I have had are very almondy in flavor.

Then the A. arborea (downy serviceberry), which I have not seen natively here, but they seem to do really well. In this climate they grow about 4' a year! The leaves seem more resistant to the rust, but most of the berries still get yucked. These are not a named cultivar.

A. alnifolia (saskatoon) has not done well here at all. This did better out west. It may need colder or drier or something unlike here. Out west that and the Utah shadberry are common in the wild and delicious. IF someone wants four of them from my yard just bring a shovel.

The best thing about them for me is that they readily root as hardwood cuttings and I can make 20 a year or more for new areas. This and goumi are the main understory plants in my schema. I have several kinds of vibernum that I wanted in that role but they are not as robust.

I give this shrub 8 out of 10 purple berries. For the record, they are tastier than Aronia by a lot in my book, but that is a similar plant for you Jocelyn. When I get berries from my mongrel aronia horde, I will send some out.
 
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So far I’m a big fan. I have two varieties, still both small, but growing quickly once they hit their second year.  Yield in our harsh dry conditions here (Reno NV) has been pretty good.  Wife thinks they taste too mealy, but I like the variety.

Didn’t realize they would easily hardwood root; I guess it’s time to start massive propagation projects!
 
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