(Amelanchier sp. – Family Rosaceae)
Saskatoon berry, service berry, June berry, shad-bush, sarvisberry, shadbloom, juneberry
These berries are another member of the Rose family.
There are a dozen or so species and several hybrids, but the best of the berries are from A. alnifolia, which usually refers to the saskatoons.
Other species also use that name and any other in the list. The second best fruit is said to come from the saskatoon cultivar, A. canadensis, and is unique in that it is found in East Asia.
The purplish fruits are not berries, but drupes having a single stone. Otherwise, they look quite similar to a blueberry.
The fruit is from a highly variable deciduous shrub that can grow to ten feet in height. Botanists have distinguished at least three varieties, but the native peoples of Canada claim nine; and further taxonomic research has since proven that the native peoples are more accurate in their differentiation than the botanists have been.
The Saskatoons have been the most extensively used of all the fruits and berries eaten by the First Nations of Western Canada.
There are low-bush varieties as well as higher ones. The berries vary from sweet to tart, but still remain a favourite for jams or pies.