Native to North America, the Saskatoon serviceberry tree produces delicious, healthy, berries and is a great addition to a landscape because of its beautiful flowers in the spring. The berries contain many antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (more so than blueberries). Additionally they bloom a beautiful white in the spring and turn gold red in the fall. Moreover they provide food for birds and other animals and are also important for northwestern Native Americans. The name Saskatoon comes from a Cree word (misâskwatômina) meaning “the fruit of the tree of many branches.” Other names for this berry tree include Western Serviceberry, Indian Pear, Prairie Berries, and Juneberries. In fact, the city of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan is named for it.
- Uses: The berries are perfect for eating just like you would eat a blueberries, e.g. in smoothies, cobblers, pies, muffins, pancakes, jellies, jams… Additionally the shrub is great for landscaping, especially along the edges of woodland gardens or large border plantings.
- Taste: These dark blue berries are not only sweet but very juicy. Additionally they have an earthy flavor with a rich almond undertone.
- Health Benefits: These berries are incredibly healthy. Compared to blueberries, Saskatoon serviceberries have six times more calcium, and also more protein, fat, fiber, and iron. Additionally, they are packed with antioxidants, minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium), and vitamins (ascorbic acid, folic acid, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin, and tocopherols).
- Size: At maturity, the size can range from 8 – 10 feet. However you can prune these shrubs to a smaller or taller height.
- Color: In the spring, you will see radiant white flowers. When the berries mature, they are an intense purple (due to the presence of pigments called anthocyanins). Then in the fall, you will see vivid reds and gold as the leaves change colors.
- Hardiness Zones: 4 – 7
- Pests and Diseases
- The Saskatoon serviceberry can be susceptible to fireblight, mildew, rust, fungal leaf spots, cankers, as well as rabbits and mice. You can use organic pest/disease management practices such as pruning and spraying with soap water. You can dissolve one shaved bar into one quart hot water, then add two gallons of water and shake before spraying.
- Bloom Period: Spring
- Harvest Period: The berries will ripen in June, changing from green, to red, to purplish black.
- Pollination: These shrubs can be self-pollinated and cross-pollinated via insects.
- Cultivation: With full/partial sun and yearly pruning, these shrubs will grow wonderfully. However if the root system becomes exposed, add some topsoil around the base. If you would like, adding some manure in the fall every other year will keep the roots happy.
- Soil preference: These shrubs prefer moist, well-drained, slightly acidic, soil with a pH of 5.5 – 7.0.
- Wildlife Value: Birds and other animals love these delicious berries. If you are also a bird lover, then these berries will do the trick.
Check out our guides page for information on how to take care of trees.