Saturday, 9 June 2012

Amelanchier species

Amelanchier (pronounced am-ul-lank-ee-ur) is a genus containing around twenty deciduous species of shrubs and trees from the rose (Rosaceae) family. They are more commonly known as serviceberry, juneberry, saskatoon, sarvisberry, shadbush, wild pear and wild plum. Amelanchier are native to the temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere and so do very well in the British Isles. A. x lamarckii is thought to be a natural hybrid and is also naturalised throughout Europe although it is not a native here.

Canadian serviceberry (A. canadensis)

The shrub in the photo is of the species A. canadensis. It was taken today and shows clusters of unripe fruit. They look a bit like unripe blueberries. However, unlike blueberries, they are much much easier to grow. These little berries will increase in size and turn a purple black colour when they are fully ripe. We think these shrubs are well worth growing since they don't take much looking after and have reliably produced really nice fruit each summer.

Canadian Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)

Amelanchier species are often sold as ornamentals in the UK and there are various cultivars available. Pretty white flowers appear in the spring and edible fruit in the summer which is also very popular with the birds. The berry is 5-15mm in diameter and while it is called a berry it is actually a pome which is related to an apple. Trees or shrubs can be pruned in June if needs be or, if space allows, they can be allowed to do their own thing. Amelanchier can grow to around 20 metres high. Species to try which are reported to have decent fruit include A. alnifolia, A. canadensis, A. laevis and A. x lamarkii. Planting different species apparently ensures cross pollination and a better fruit.

Raw edible parts

All species from the Amelanchier genus have edible fruit but some taste nicer than others. It is important to ensure the fruit is dark and ripe before eating to get the best of the flavour. The berries can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried and used like raisins. We haven't tried drying them yet due to the fact that the birds always get most of the fruit before us.

1 comment:

  1. :) Yes the birds usually devour ours but we had an abundant crop I am going to make something with the surplus that the birds have not eaten, if the rain stops!