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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
WESTERN SERVICEBERRY, SASKATOON SERVICEBERRY, SASKATOON BERRY, JUNE BERRY
Pronounced: am-e-LANG-kee-er al-nih-FOE-lee-uh
Sunset zones: A1-A3, 1-6.
USDA zones: 4-9.
Heat zones: 8-3.
Height: 12-20 feet (4-6 m).
Width: 12 feet (4 m).
Compact clusters of flowers bearing 5 white, strap-like petals. The flower buds are pure white. Flowers are followed by glabrous, glaucous, red-turning-to-purple-black fruit.
Broadly oval, 2-inch long, green leaves that turn red and yellow in the fall.
Partial shade to full sun.
Fertile, acidic, moist, well-drained soil.
Sow seed when ripe and place in cold frame. Seed needs 3-6 months cold stratification at 33-44°F.
Remove suckers in winter.
Semi-ripe cuttings in summer. Pruning Methods:
This shrub needs minimal pruning. Remove crossing and wayward stems in late winter to early spring after bloom.
May be susceptible to aphids, leaf spot or powdery mildew.
Rainy Side Notes
Saskatoon berry, most often called serviceberry, grows along rocky shorelines, bluffs, meadows, and forest edges. The largest one of this species thrives in Beacon Rock State Park in Washington, standing 42 feet tall by 43 feet wide. However, the serviceberries growing in lower elevations normally reach up to ten feet high. Every fall the saskatoon leaves turn our hillsides into a kaleidoscope of flaming reds or bright yellow hues.
Serviceberry is sometimes confused with Amelanchier florida, and now called A. alnifolia var. semi-intregrifolia, set apart by their smaller flowers and rounder leaves.
This was a common food source for many indigenous cultures across the maritime Pacific Northwest region, as well as across North America. The Haida and Kwakwaka'wakw of British Columbia had names that meant sweet berry.
Chehalis, Chinook, Klallam, Lummi, Quileute, Samish, Skagit, Snohomish, and Swinomish tribes of Washington State used the berries and/or wood. Berries were eaten fresh or dried, while the wood was used to make silver-dollar-sized disks for a gambling game, and rigging for halibut fishing lines.
In the Garden
This suckering shrub is adaptable to the home garden and especially suited for the wildlife friendly garden. The berries are ornamental, beginning as dusty red and turning to purple black when they ripen in August. If you can harvest the fruit before the birds do, the musty-blueberry taste of the berries make great, mouth-watering pies.
For wildlife habitat, this is an excellent choice for the garden. While the birds eat the berries, bees and butterflies use the shrub as an important nectar source. The small tree is also a host plant for the caterpillars of swallowtails and other butterflies.