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Amelanchier alnifolia

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Title: Amelanchier alnifolia  
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Subject: Amelanchier, Native American cuisine, Plants used in Native American cuisine, Saskatoon (disambiguation), Saskatoon Island Provincial Park
Collection: Aboriginal Cuisine in Canada, Amelanchier, Berries, Flora of Alaska, Flora of California, Flora of Idaho, Flora of North America, Flora of North Dakota, Flora of Oregon, Flora of Saskatchewan, Flora of the Northwestern United States, Flora of the Plains-Midwest (United States), Flora of the Sierra Nevada (U.S.), Flora of the West Coast of the United States, Flora of Western Canada, Native American Cuisine, Plants Used in Native American Cuisine, Trees of the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Amelanchier alnifolia

Amelanchier alnifolia
A. a. var. semiintegrifolia; Skagit Bay, Washington
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Amelanchier
Species: A. alnifolia
Binomial name
Amelanchier alnifolia
(Nutt.) Nutt.
Natural range of Amelanchier alnifolia
  • A. florida Lindl.
  • A. pumila (Torr. & A. Gray) Nutt. ex M. Roem.
  • Aronia alnifolia Nutt.

Amelanchier alnifolia, the saskatoon, Pacific serviceberry, western serviceberry, alder-leaf shadbush, dwarf shadbush, chuckley pear, or western juneberry,[1] is a shrub with edible berry-like fruit, native to North America from Alaska across most of western Canada and in the western and north-central United States. Historically, it was also called pigeon berry.[2] It grows from sea level in the north of the range, up to 2,600 m (8,530 ft) elevation in California and 3,400 m (11,200 ft) in the Rocky Mountains,[1][3][4] and is a common shrub in the forest understory.[5]


  • Etymology 1
  • Description 2
  • Varieties 3
  • Cultivation and uses 4
  • Diseases and pests 5
  • Nutrients 6
  • References 7


The name "saskatoon" derives from the Cree inanimate noun misâskwatômina (misâskwatômin NI sg, saskatoonberry, misâskwatômina NI pl saskatoonberries).[6] The city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is named after the berry.


It is a deciduous shrub or small tree that can grow to 1–8 m (3–26 ft) (rarely to 10 m or 33 ft) in height. Its growth form spans from suckering and forming colonies to clumped.

The leaves are oval to nearly circular, 2–5 cm (0.79–1.97 in) long and 1–4.5 cm (0.4–1.8 in) broad, on a 0.5–2 cm (0.2–0.8 in) leaf stem, margins toothed mostly above the middle.

As with all species in the genus Amelanchier, the flowers are white, with five quite separate petals. In A. alnifolia, they are about 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) across, and appear on short racemes of three to 20 somewhat crowded together, in spring while the new leaves are still expanding.

The fruit is a small purple pome 5–15 mm (0.2–0.6 in) in diameter, ripening in early summer in the coastal areas and late summer further inland.[3][4]


The three varieties are:[4][7]

  • A. a. var. alnifolia. Northeastern part of the species' range.[8]
  • A. a. var. pumila (Nutt.) A.Nelson. Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada.[9][10]
  • A. a. var. semiintegrifolia (Hook.) C.L.Hitchc. Pacific coastal regions, Alaska to northwestern California.[11][12]

Cultivation and uses

Seedlings are planted with 13–20 feet (4.0–6.1 m) between rows and 1.5–3 feet (0.46–0.91 m) between plants. An individual bush may bear fruit 30 or more years.[13]

Saskatoons are adaptable to most soil types with exception of poorly drained or heavy clay soils lacking organic matter. Shallow soils should be avoided, especially if the water table is high or erratic. Winter hardiness is exceptional, but frost can damage blooms as late as May. Large amounts of sunshine are needed for fruit ripening.[13][14]

With a sweet, nutty taste, the fruits have long been eaten by Canada's aboriginal people, fresh or dried. They are well known as an ingredient in pemmican, a preparation of dried meat to which saskatoon berries are added as flavour and preservative. They are also often used in pies, jam, wines, cider, beers, and sugar-infused berries similar to dried cranberries used for cereals, trail mix, and snack foods.[15][16][17][18]

In 2004, the British Food Standards Agency suspended saskatoon berries from retail sales[19] pending safety testing; the ban eventually was lifted after pressure from the European Union.

Diseases and pests

A. alnifolia is susceptible to cedar-apple rust.[20]


The 5- to 15-mm-diameter pomes ripen in early summer.
Resembling blueberries, the fruit have a waxy bloom.
Saskatoons picked near Wainwright, Alberta.
Nutrients in raw saskatoon berries[15]
Nutrient Value per 100 g % Daily Value
Energy 85 kcal
Total dietary fiber 5.9 g 20%
Sugars, total 11.4 g 8%
Calcium 42 mg 4%
Magnesium 24 mg 6%
Iron 1 mg 12%
Manganese 1.4 mg 70%
Potassium 162 mg 3%
Sodium 0.5 mg 0%
Vitamin C 3.6 mg 4%
Vitamin A 11 IU 1%
Vitamin E 1.1 mg 7%
Folate 4.6 µg 1%
Riboflavin 3.5 mg > 100%
Panthothenic acid 0.3 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.03 mg 2%
Biotin 20 µg 67%

Saskatoon berries contain significant amounts of total dietary fiber, vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and biotin, and the essential minerals, iron and manganese, a nutrient profile similar to the content of blueberries.[15]

Notable for polyphenol antioxidants also similar in composition to blueberries,[15] saskatoons have total phenolics of 452 mg per 100 g (average of 'Smoky' and 'Northline' cultivars), flavonols (61 mg) and anthocyanins (178 mg),[15] although others have found the phenolic values to be either lower in the 'Smoky' cultivar[21] or higher.[22] Quercetin, cyanidin, delphinidin, pelargonidin, petunidin, peonidin, and malvidin were polyphenols present in saskatoon berries.[15][23]


  1. ^ a b c Germplasm Resources Information Network: Amelanchier alnifolia
  2. ^ Schorger, A.W. 1955. The Passenger Pigeon; its natural history and extinction. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison.
  3. ^ a b Plants of British Columbia: Amelanchier alnifolia
  4. ^ a b c Jepson Flora: Amelanchier alnifolia
  5. ^ Dyrness, C. T. and Acker, S. A. (2010). "Ecology of Common Understory Plants in Northwestern Oregon and Southwestern Washington Forests" (PDF). H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon State University. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "saskatoon".   (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ University of Maine: list of taxaAmelanchier
  8. ^ University of Maine: alnifolia var. Amelanchier alnifolia
  9. ^ Jepson Flora: pumila var. Amelanchier alnifolia
  10. ^ University of Maine: pumila var. Amelanchier alnifolia
  11. ^ Jepson Flora: semiintegrifolia var. Amelanchier alnifolia
  12. ^ University of Maine: semiintegrifolia var. Amelanchier alnifolia
  13. ^ a b Introduction to Saskatoons[dead link]
  14. ^ St-Pierre, R. G. Growing Saskatoons - A Manual For Orchardists
  15. ^ a b c d e f Mazza, G. (2005). "Compositional and Functional Properties of Saskatoon Berry and Blueberry". International Journal of Fruit Science 5 (3): 101–120.  
  16. ^ Mazza G, Davidson CG. Saskatoon berry: A fruit crop for the prairies. p. 516-519. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), New crops. Wiley, New York, 1993.
  17. ^ Government of Manitoba - Ministry of Agriculture: Saskatoon Berries
  18. ^ St-Pierre RG. Growing saskatoons - a manual for orchardists
  19. ^ "Britain plucks saskatoon berries from store shelves". CBC News. 2004-07-07. Retrieved 2015-07-22. 
  20. ^ Ron Smith. "Juneberries". Retrieved 2010-06-21. Q: I have a question about Juneberry shrub trees. When the Juneberries start to ripen, they get red in color and then something starts to grow on them, almost like a fungus. What could it be and what can be done? A: It is a fungus, most likely cedar-apple rust. Juneberry is in the same family as the apple (rose), so it is subject to some of the same diseases. The easiest way to control this is to find the offending juniper and remove it or pick off and destroy the orange, golf ball-sized fruit that is present before sporogenesis has a chance to begin. 
  21. ^ Ozga; Saeed, A; Wismer, W; Reinecke, DM (2007). "Characterization of cyanidin- and quercetin-derived flavonoids and other phenolics in mature saskatoon fruits (Amelanchier alnifolia Nutt.)". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 55 (25): 10414–24.  
  22. ^ Hosseinian; Beta, T (2007). "Saskatoon and wild blueberries have higher anthocyanin contents than other Manitoba berries". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 55 (26): 10832–8.  
  23. ^ Bakowska-barczak; Marianchuk, M; Kolodziejczyk, P (2007). "Survey of bioactive components in Western Canadian berries". Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 85 (11): 1139–52.  
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