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Amelanchier alnifolia - (Nutt.)Nutt. ex M.Roem.                
                 
Common Name Saskatoon, Saskatoon serviceberry, Serviceberry
Family Rosaceae
Synonyms Aronia alnifolia.
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Thickets, woodland edges and banks of streams[43] in moist well-drained soils[99, 200]. Small bushy forms grow on fairly dry hillsides[212].
Range Western and Central N. America - Saskatchewan and south to Colorado and Idaho.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       
Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of shrub
Amelanchier alnifolia is a deciduous Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 2 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Jun to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.


USDA hardiness zone : 4-6


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Amelanchier alnifolia Saskatoon, Saskatoon serviceberry, Serviceberry


(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Amelanchier alnifolia Saskatoon, Saskatoon serviceberry, Serviceberry
(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Edible fruit - raw or cooked[3, 11, 46, 62, 101]. The fruit ripens in mid summer (early July in southern Britain), it is soft and juicy with a few small seeds in the centre. A very nice sweet flavour that is enjoyed by almost everyone who tries it, there is a hint of apple in the taste[K]. About the size of a blackcurrant, the fruit is produced in small clusters and the best wild forms can be 15mm in diameter[200, 212]. The fruit can also be dried and used as raisins or made into pemmican[101, 183]. The fruit is rich in iron and copper[226]. The leaves are a tea substitute[161, 257].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Appetizer;  Birthing aid;  Contraceptive;  Diaphoretic;  Febrifuge;  Laxative;  Ophthalmic;  Stomachic.

Saskatoon was quite widely employed as a medicinal herb by the North American Indians, who used it to treat a wide range of minor complaints[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism. An infusion of the inner bark is used as a treatment for snow-blindness[172]. A decoction of the fruit juice is mildly laxative. It has been used in the treatment of upset stomachs, to restore the appetite in children, it is also applied externally as ear and eye drops[257]. A decoction of the roots has been used in the treatment of colds[257]. It has also been used as a treatment for too frequent menstruation[257]. A decoction of the stems, combined with the stems of snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp) is diaphoretic. It has been used to induce sweating in the treatment of fevers, flu etc and also in the treatment of chest pains and lung infections[257]. A decoction of the plant, together with bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata) has been used as a contraceptive[257]. Other recipes involving this plant have also been used as contraceptives including a decoction of the ashes of the plant combined with the ashes of pine branches or buds[257]. A strong decoction of the bark was taken immediately after childbirth to hasten the dropping of the placenta. It was said to help clean out and help heal the woman's insides and also to stop her menstrual periods after the birth, thus acting as a form of birth control[257].
Other Uses
Shelterbelt;  Soil stabilization.

Plants have a spreading, suckering root system and are used in windbreaks for erosion control[200]. Young branches can be twisted to make a rope[257]. Wood - hard, straight grained, tough. Used for tool handles etc. The wood can be made even harder by heating it over a fire and it is easily moulded whilst still hot[99]. The young stems are used to make rims, handles and as a stiffening in basket making[257].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Erosion control, Massing, Woodland garden. Prefers a rich loamy soil in a sunny position or semi-shade[1, 200] but thrives in any soil that is not too dry or water-logged[11]. Plants are fairly lime tolerant[200], they also grow well in heavy clay soils. Hardy to about -20°c according to one report[184], whilst another suggests that this species is hardy to about -50°c[11]. All members of this genus have edible fruits and, whilst this is dry and uninteresting in some species, in many others it is sweet and juicy. Many of the species have potential for use in the garden as edible ornamentals. This species is particularly interesting because it is quite compact and produces an excellent quality quite large fruit[K]. The main draw-back to this genus is that birds adore the fruit and will often completely strip a tree before it is fully ripe[K]. A very variable species, ranging from a thicket-forming shrub to a small tree in the wild[229]. It is occasionally cultivated for its edible fruit, there are several named varieties[183]. A stoloniferous species, spreading by suckers to form a thicket[11]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. Grafting onto seedlings of A. lamarckii or Sorbus aucuparia is sometimes practised in order to avoid the potential problem of hybridizing[1]. Special Features:North American native, Blooms are very showy.
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - it is best harvested 'green', when the seed is fully formed but before the seed coat has hardened, and then sown immediately in pots outdoors or in a cold frame. If stored seed is obtained early enough in the autumn, it can be given 4 weeks warm stratification before being left out in the winter and it should then germinate in the spring. Otherwise seed can be very slow to germinate, perhaps taking 18 months or more. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a sheltered outdoor position, planting them out once they are 20cm or more tall. If there is sufficient seed it is best to sow it thinly in an outdoor seedbed[78, 80]. Grow the seedlings on for two years in the seedbed before planting them out into their permanent positions during the winter. Layering in spring - takes 18 months[78]. Division of suckers in late winter. The suckers need to have been growing for 2 years before you dig them up, otherwise they will not have formed roots. They can be planted out straight into their permanent positions if required.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
(Nutt.)Nutt. ex M.Roem.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
1143200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[3]Simmons. A. E. Growing Unusual Fruit.
A very readable book with information on about 100 species that can be grown in Britain (some in greenhouses) and details on how to grow and use them.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[43]Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany.
A bit dated but good and concise flora of the eastern part of N. America.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[62]Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Very readable.
[78]Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
[80]McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed.
Does not deal with many species but it is very comprehensive on those that it does cover. Not for casual reading.
[99]Turner. N. J. Plants in British Columbian Indian Technology.
Excellent and readable guide.
[101]Turner. N. J. and Szczawinski. A. Edible Wild Fruits and Nuts of Canada.
A very readable guide to some wild foods of Canada.
[161]Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237.
A comprehensive but very terse guide. Not for the casual reader.
[172]Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[184]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs.
Excellent photographs and a terse description of 1900 species and cultivars.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[212]Craighead. J., Craighead. F. and Davis. R. A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers
Excellent little pocket guide to the area, covering 590 species and often giving details of their uses.
[226]Lauriault. J. Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada
Very good on identification for non-experts, the book also has a lot of information on plant uses.
[229]Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.

Readers comment                                         
 
Jennifer L.
Nov 5 2011 12:00AM
This plant is very easy to grow in NW England and tastes delicious off the tree. Quite wind and sea tolerant, perfect for hedges, shrub borders and landscaping. It even grows well in 'car park landscaping'--there is a big tree in a local shopping area that fruits heavily despite pollution and no maintenance or after care
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