This highly ornamental Intermountain West shrub with delicious purple berries generously provides food for many animals, including humans!
Also called Saskatoon, Shadbush, Juneberry, Rocky Mountain blueberry, and Serviceberry, among others, Serviceberries are widely distributed over the forests and valleys of the Intermountain West. Their beautiful white flowers are a sign of spring, and their dark purple berries which ripen in mid-to-late summer are a delicious treat for humans as well as many other animals. Chickadees and goldfinches love them. These understory shrubs are happy in sun or part shade. They reach 6-18ft in height and also make attractive landscape plants.
The American Indian Health and Diet Project highlights many culinary, medicinal, and other uses of serviceberries, which are an important part of the ancestral foodways of Niitsitapi (Blackfeet), Nimiipuu (Nez Perce), Newe (Shoshone), and other indigenous people in the Intermountain West.
This article, written by Potawatomi botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer, celebrates serviceberries as a gift, part of an economy of abundance. We recognize the truth in what she says and are actively seeking ways of bridging economy and ecology in our work. We also acknowledge the impact colonization has had on the ancestral foodways and medicines of this area, and are seeking guidance about how we can best be of use in supporting Indigenous-led efforts to restore these ancestral foodways. We welcome ideas!
Seeds were sustainably wildcrafted in the Great Basin by Kyle and friends at Native-Seed Company.
Directions: For best results, scatter seeds in fall or winter, as the seeds require cold stratification to germinate. Or, mix seed with damp sand and store in the fridge for 3-6 months before starting indoors or direct seeding.
For more information about growing Saskatoon Serviceberry, please refer to the USDA plant guide.
"Western Serviceberry, Saskatoon - Amelanchier alnifolia" by tlhowes2012 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0