The Amelanchier ainifolia, commonly known as Saskatoon Berry, is a versatile and hardy shrub that can grow up to 10 meters tall. With its smooth reddish-brown twigs and greyish to red-brown bark, Saskatoon Berry is an attractive addition to any landscape. Its oval to oblong-elliptic leaves, which are saw-toothed mostly on the top half, grow up to 5 cm long and stalks up to 2 cm long.
In spring, Saskatoon Berry produces drooping to erect terminal racemes at the ends of branches with 3 to 20 flowers on slender ascending stalks. The flowers have five linear to lanceolate white petals, and the hypanthium is 1-2 mm long. In summer, Saskatoon Berry produces berry-like pomes (miniature apples) that are crowned with a persistent calyx. The pomes are globe to egg-shaped, 5-14 mm long, and initially dull red, becoming purple to nearly black, with a white bloom.
Saskatoon Berry is adaptable to a variety of soil and moisture conditions and is suitable for commercial fruit production. The berries are 1/3-1/2 inch in diameter and blue-purple. The shrub’s dense growth provides food and shelter for wildlife. Saskatoon Berry has good nutrient levels throughout the year and is browsed mostly in spring, providing good forage for cattle, goats, and sheep.
Aside from its ornamental value and wildlife benefits, Saskatoon Berry is also useful for its medicinal and culinary properties. Indigenous Peoples used the fruit in soups, stews, meat dishes, pemmican, and dried cakes. The fruit is also eaten fresh, prepared in puddings, pies, and muffins, and dried like raisins and currants. Saskatoon Berry’s bark, fruit juice, and roots have been used for various medicinal purposes, including treating upset stomachs, colds, too frequent menstruation, and inducing sweating to treat fevers, flu, chest pains, and lung infections. Saskatoon Berry’s wood is hard, straight-grained, and tough, making it ideal for tool handles, and its young branches can be twisted to make a rope.
In summary, the Saskatoon Berry is an attractive, hardy, and versatile shrub that is a valuable addition to any landscape. Its berries, leaves, and bark are utilized for various purposes, including food, medicine, and household items. It is easy to grow, adaptable to different growing conditions, and benefits wildlife and humans alike.
Adaptable to a variety of soil and moisture conditions, but shows some drought intolerance., Often suckers to form colonies., Under favourable conditions, individual bushes may be in bloom for as long as a month.
General: Perennial herb from an elongate, long-necked, narrowly egg-shaped, scaly bulb, the outer scales membranous, without a fibrous network, the inner scales faintly pinkish, the bulbs often clustered; flowering stems erect but down-curved near the top, 10-50 cm tall, slender, often somewhat angled, smooth.
Leaves: Basal leaves several per bulb, linear, flat to channelled, shorter than the flowering stem, about 3 mm wide, smooth, the margins entire or minutely toothed; stem leaves lacking.
Flowers: Inflorescence a compact, terminal, nodding umbel of several to many, stalked flowers, above 2 membranous bracts, the stalks 1-3 cm long, the bracts soon deciduous; flowers pink to rose-purple or whitish, bell-shaped, of 6 distinct tepals, the tepals 4-6 mm long, elliptic-egg-shaped, blunt; stamens 6, exserted; pistil 1, 3-chambered.
Fruits: Capsules, more or less egg-shaped, 3-lobed, with 6 crests, 2 on each lobe; seeds 6 or fewer, dull-black.