Saskatoon Berries

(Amelanchier alnifolia) Deciduous Zones 3-10.

You will be enamoured with the Northwest native shrub. Also known as serviceberry or juneberry, Saskatoon Berry is a deciduous shrub that grows up to 16 feet. The fruit looks and tastes like a blueberry, but it is actually a pome, and belongs to the rose family along with apples, plums, and cherries.

Saskatoon Berry is an incredible edible ornamental! In Spring, its branches erupt with bright white, fragrant five-petalled blossoms; in Fall, it's dark green leaves turn a flaming orange. The berries, ripening in June or early July, are purple to nearly black with a white bloom, or powdery coating. The delicious berries will attract a variety of bird species.

The Saskatoon berry is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, and higher in fibre and protein than most fruits because the seeds are edible. The fruit is sweet, with dense, juicy flesh and excellent fresh, frozen, or dried. Use it in any recipe that calls for blueberries.

Saskatoon Berry is shade tolerant, but greater sunlight will increase yields. In the wild, it is found in dry woods and open hillsides and prefers well-drained soils but is not finicky about pH. It is self-fertile, but will produce more fruit when grown in groups. It is very cold hardy and should provide a harvest in its third year.

Indigenous peoples in North America has used wild Saskatoon berries in their diet for centuries. The juice can used to sweeten other wild foods like black tree lichen and roots and the berries used in pemmican, a mixture of dried meat or fish and berries pounded into a cake and dried in the sun - a highly nutritious survival food that was adopted by early settlers.

Saskatoon Berry has a long history of medicinal use as well. A strong tonic, made from the bark, has been used by women immediately after childbirth to help deliver the placenta; a weaker tonic can be used to ease stomach issues and as ear drops.

The hard wood of the Saskatoon can be used to make many things - arrows, tool handles, combs, canoe crossbars, tipi stakes - and the berries used for purple dyes. Saskatoon Berry is an incredible native plant with an interesting history!