'Smokey' Saskatoon Berry
'Smokey' Saskatoon Berry
'Smokey' Saskatoon Berry

'Smokey' Saskatoon Berry

Regular price $5.00 Sale

Amelanchier alnifolia

Origin: Alberta (via Manitoba)

Improvement status: Cultivar

Seeds per packet: ~20


Life cycle: Perennial

Also known as Pacific serviceberry, western juneberry, or western shadbush, the Saskatoon berry is the most widely consumed Amalanchier in western north America. Native from western Minnesota in the east to northern California in the west, and Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska in the south to northern Canada and Alaska in the north, it is a common understory plant in forests across its range. The name "Saskatoon" comes from the Cree name for the berries, misâskwatômina. This species has a long history of use by Indigenous peoples as both food and medicine. The berries are excellent raw and are also made into jams, jellies, syrups, beverages, and desserts.

'Smokey', a cultivar developed in Alberta, is considered by many to be the best-tasting saskatoon berry out there, with large sweet blue-purple berries produced in immense quantities. It's self-pollinating and may sucker (send up shoots from its roots). Plants can grow to fifteen or twenty feet tall, or even higher under perfect conditions. Being from Alberta, it's very cold hardy, able to withstand winters unprotected from Zone 3 and up. Its white flowers in spring are spectacular.

GROWING TIPS: Germination is greatly improved by at least 90 days of cold-moist stratification. Whether direct-seeded (which we don't recommend, but is possible) or started in pots, seeds should only be lightly covered in soil. Saskatoon berries prefer rich loamy soil, with very slight acidity, but are adaptable to a range of soil types, as long as the soil is well-draining.

NOTE: Photos are all public domain photos not showing this specific cultivar, but other examples of the species. The Illustration is by Mary Vaux Walcott from 1926.