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Amelanchier alnifolia

Pronounced: am-e-LANG-kee-er al-nih-FOE-lee-uh


Geographic Origin:
North America
Plant Group:
Sunset zones: A1-A3, 1-6.
USDA zones: 4-9.
Heat zones: 8-3.
Mature size:
Height: 12-20 feet (4-6 m).
Width: 12 feet (4 m).
Flowering period:
Late spring.
Flowering attributes:
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.
Leaf attributes:
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.
Propagation Methods:
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.
Pruning Methods:
May be susceptible to aphids, leaf spot or powdery mildew.

Rainy Side Notes

The Saskatoon berry, a native of North America, is a unique fruit that thrives in diverse environments such as rocky shorelines, bluffs, meadows, and forest edges.

The largest known species, found in Beacon Rock State Park in Washington, stands at an impressive 42 feet tall by 43 feet wide. In lower elevations, the Saskatoon berry grows to a more modest ten feet.

The Saskatoon leaves transform our hillsides into a vibrant kaleidoscope of red, copper, or bright yellow hues every fall.

Western serviceberry, which has smaller flowers and rounder leaves, is sometimes confused with Amelanchier florida and is now called A. alnifolia var. semi-intregrifolia.


The Saskatoon berry, also known as serviceberry, holds a significant place in the food culture of many indigenous communities across the Pacific Northwest and North America. For instance, the Haida and Kwakwaka'wakw of British Columbia had names that translated to 'sweet berry,' a testament to the deep-rooted importance of this fruit in their diet and culture. This cultural significance adds another layer of appreciation for this unique fruit.

Chehalis, Chinook, Klallam, Lummi, Quileute, Samish, Skagit, Snohomish, and Swinomish tribes of Washington State used berries and wood. The people ate the berries fresh or dried and used the wood to make silver-dollar-sized disks for a gambling game and rigging for halibut fishing lines.

In the Garden

The Saskatoon berry is a delicious fruit and a beautiful addition to any home garden. This shrub spreads through suckering and is particularly well-suited for wildlife-friendly gardens.

In late spring, compact clusters of blossoms bear five white, strap-like petals. Flowers are followed by the ornamental berries, which start with a dusty red hue and mature into a rich purple-black in August. Their unique musty blueberry taste makes them perfect for mouth-watering pies if you can beat the birds to the harvest.

The tree is an excellent choice for the garden as a wildlife habitat. While 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.

Minimal pruning is needed to cultivate the Saskatoon berry. It's best to remove crossing and wayward stems in late winter to early spring after bloom. The Saskatoon berry prefers fertile, acidic, moist, well-drained soil and partial shade to full sunlight. These practical tips will help you create an ideal environment for this unique fruit in your garden.

Debbie Teashon

Rainy Side Gardeners —