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Every crag and gnarled tree and lonely valley has its own strange and graceful legend attached to it.
Douglas Hyde

Saskatoon Berries

Amelanchier alnifolia

Saskatoon Fruit Cluster

Yummacious! (Photo courtesy Saskatoon Berry Institute)

Food -- Saskatoon

Species
Cultivar
Container
Format
Available
(# plants)
Height
(feet)
Price
($/Plant)
Saskatoon, 'Ovation' #5 Std pot (15 qt) 12 $50.00
Saskatoon, Northline #1 Std pot (3 qt) 7 $20.00
Saskatoon, Parkhill #5 Std pot (15 qt) 3 $50.00
Saskatoon, Parkhill #8 Std pot (24 qt) -3 $100.00
Saskatoon, Smoky #1 Std pot (3 qt) 5 $20.00
Saskatoon, Thiessen #1 Std pot (3 qt) -3 $20.00
Saskatoon, wild #1 Std pot (3 qt) 15 $12.50
Last Update: 2020-Aug-26


This shrub natively grows over a large part of North America. As a boy in Idaho I knew it as Serviceberry. That and Juneberry seem to be the most common names in the U.S. Saskatoon is Canadian, actually Cree, I think.

Locally wild Saskatoons seem to prefer south facing slopes, but I've found it as an understory shrub among the poplars. The leaves are distinctive: The end of the leaf near the stem is smooth. The other half is toothed.

The shrub typically grows 6-12 feet tall. Cultivars for fruit production are chosen from the shorter end of this range. One cultivar (Ovation) has been chosen for it's height and brilliant fall foliage. It's not a great producer, and is difficult to pick. But it is pretty.

Flowers are bee pollenated. Here on the farm it's usually bumble bees. Berries ripen in early July.

Saskatoons like their own company. Space fairly close in the row, and return their leaves to the base of the shrub in fall. I suspect there is a nutrient they can salvage from their leaves.

Best soil is sandy loam. Don't do well on poorly drained clay soils. If your soil is clay, plant them on a slope. This will improve drainage.

The berries are high in anthocyanins (responsible for the purple colour). There are a raft of polyphenols too -- antioxidants.

Saskatoons we carry vary from year to year. If you want a particular variety, order early.

Summary:

Honeywood

Martin

Northline

Nelson

Pembina

Smoky

Thiessen

Parkhill

Ovation

Native

These are seed propagated from wild harvested fruit. They still produce good fruit, but the berries will be much smaller than the commercial ones (typically 1/4" to 3/8") As is common with domestication, they are more strongly flavoured than their commercial cousins too. As such they can be used in a mix containing fruit that runs to bland. Strawberry saskatoon pie is a common mix.

On special order, I can get Honeywood, Lee #3, Lee #8, Northline, Martin, Nelson, Parkhill. If you want large quantities, I need a year's notice.

Pests

Somewhat susceptible to cedar-apple rust, with the saskatoon substituting for the apple. Do not plant easter red cedar or junipers in close proximity. I've not heard of it being an issue here on the prairies, as we tend to be too dry. That said: I have two upright juninpers, and a native flat juniper about 75 feet away from a pair of saskatoons. So maybe I don't have any rust on either one of them.

Grasshoppers, rabbits and deer have been reported as pests. If you are going to fence the deer out, consider running turkeys to cope with the grasshopper problem -- you've got the fence anyway. Try with a heritage breed that is a bit brighter than some of the currently popular commercial breeds.

Care:

If you are serious about saskatoons for fruit, you need to get your own copy of:

Saskatoon Berry Production Manual

If the above disappears, let me know.

The link above is an electronic version. You can buy it in print for $15.

While much of the manual concerns production, there are good sections on watering, pruning, fertilizing.

Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our [Contact][5] page for directions.


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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.