Amelanchier alnifolia

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Amelanchier alnifolia
Amelanchier alnifolia var. semiintegrifolia, Chelan County, Washington
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Amelanchier
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 berry, Pacific serviceberry, western serviceberry, western shadbush, or western juneberry,[2] is a shrub native to North America. It is a member of the rose family, and bears an edible berry-like fruit.


It is a deciduous shrub or small tree that most often grows to 1–8 metres (3–26 feet),[3] rarely to 10 m or 33 ft,[4] in height. Its growth form spans from suckering and forming colonies to clumped.[5] The leaves are oval to nearly circular, 2–5 centimetres (34–2 inches) long and 1–4.5 cm (121+34 in) broad, on a 0.5–2 cm (1434 in) leaf stem, with margins toothed mostly above the middle.[5]

As with all species in the genus Amelanchier, the flowers are white,[6] with five quite separate petals and five sepals. In A. alnifolia, they are about 2.5–5 cm (1–2 in) across, with 20 stamens and five styles,[7] appearing on short racemes of 3–20,[5] somewhat crowded together, blooming from April to July.[7]

The fruit is a small purple pome 5–15 mm (3161932 in) in diameter, ripening in early summer.[5][3] It has a waxy bloom. Saskatoon species can be relatively difficult to distinguish.[7]


Saskatoons have total polyphenol content of 452 milligrams per 100 grams (average of 'Smoky' and 'Northline' cultivars), flavonols (61 mg) and anthocyanins (178 mg),[8] although others have found the phenolic values to be either lower in the 'Smoky' cultivar[9] or higher.[10] Quercetin, cyanidin, delphinidin, pelargonidin, petunidin, peonidin, and malvidin were present in saskatoon berries.[8][11]



The three varieties are:[3][12]

  • A. a. var. alnifolia. Northeastern part of the species' range.[13]
  • A. a. var. pumila (Nutt.) A.Nelson. Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada.[14][15]
  • A. a. var. semiintegrifolia (Hook.) C.L.Hitchc. Pacific coastal regions, Alaska to northwestern California.[16][17]


The name saskatoon derives from the Cree inanimate noun ᒥᓵᐢᐠᐘᑑᒥᓇ misâskwatômina (ᒥᓵᐢᐠᐘᑑᒥᐣ misâskwatômin NI sg, 'saskatoonberry', misâskwatômina NI pl 'saskatoonberries').[18]

The specific epithet alnifolia is a feminine adjective. It is a compound of the Latin word for "alder", alnus, and the word for "leaf", folium.

Historically, it was also called pigeon berry.[19]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

A. alnifolia var. semiintegrifolia shrub in flower, Skagit County, Washington

The plant can be found from Alaska across most of western Canada and in the western and north-central United States.[7] 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.[2][5][3] It is a common shrub in the forest understory,[20] as well as canyons.[7]


A. alnifolia is susceptible to cedar-apple rust, Entomosporium leaf spot, fireblight, brown rot, Cytospora canker, powdery mildew, and blackleaf.[21] Problem insects include aphids, thrips, mites, bud moths, saskatoon sawflies, and pear slug sawflies.[21] It is also a larval host to the pale tiger swallowtail, two-tailed swallowtail, and the western tiger swallowtail.[22]

The foliage is browsed by deer, elk, rabbits, and livestock.[23][24] The fruit are eaten by wildlife including birds, squirrels, and bears.[23]


Seedlings are planted with 4.0–6.1 m (13–20 ft) between rows and 0.46–0.91 m (1.5–3 ft) between plants. An individual bush may bear fruit 30 or more years.[25]

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.[25][26]


With a sweet, nutty taste, the fruits have long been eaten by Indigenous peoples in Canada, 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 used in saskatoon berry pie, jam, wines, cider, beers, and sugar-infused berries similar to dried cranberries used for cereals, trail mix, and snack foods.[8][27][28][26]

In 2004, the British Food Standards Agency suspended saskatoon berries from retail sales[29] pending safety testing; the ban eventually was lifted after pressure from the European Union.[citation needed]


Nutrients in raw saskatoon berries[8]
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, riboflavin and biotin, and the dietary minerals, iron and manganese, a nutrient profile similar to the content of blueberries.[8]


The city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is named after the berry;[18] the city is also home to a baseball team called the Saskatoon Berries.[30]


  1. ^ Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) & IUCN SSC Global Tree Specialist Group. (2018). "Amelanchier alnifolia". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 208. IUCN. e.T135957919A135957921. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T135957919A135957921.en. S2CID 242043939.
  2. ^ a b c "Amelanchier alnifolia". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d "Amelanchier alnifolia". Jepson Flora. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  4. ^ Jacobson, Arthur Lee (1996). North American Landscape Trees. Berkeley, CA USA: Ten Speed Press. p. 74. ISBN 0-89815-813-3. Records: 42' x 3'3" x 43', Beacon Rock State Park, WA (1993); 27' x 3'9" x 22', Douglas County, OR (1975)
  5. ^ a b c d e "Amelanchier alnifolia". Plants of British Columbia. Archived from the original on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  6. ^ Taylor, Ronald J. (1994) [1992]. Sagebrush Country: A Wildflower Sanctuary (rev. ed.). Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Pub. Co. p. 126. ISBN 0-87842-280-3. OCLC 25708726.
  7. ^ a b c d e Spellenberg, Richard (2001) [1979]. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers: Western Region (rev ed.). Knopf. p. 723. ISBN 978-0-375-40233-3.
  8. ^ a b c d e Mazza, G. (2005). "Compositional and Functional Properties of Saskatoon Berry and Blueberry". International Journal of Fruit Science. 5 (3): 101–120. doi:10.1300/J492v05n03_10. ISSN 1553-8362. S2CID 85691882.
  9. ^ 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. doi:10.1021/jf072949b. PMID 17994693.
  10. ^ 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. doi:10.1021/jf072529m. PMID 18052240.
  11. ^ 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. doi:10.1139/y07-102. PMID 18066116.
  12. ^ University of Maine: Amelanchier list of taxa Archived 22 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Amelanchier alnifolia var. alnifolia". University of Maine. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  14. ^ Hickman, James C., ed. (1993). "Amelanchier alnifolia var. pumila". The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University and Jepson Herbaria. Archived from the original on 12 June 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  15. ^ "Amelanchier alnifolia var. pumila". University of Maine. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  16. ^ Hickman, James C., ed. (1993). "Amelanchier alnifolia var. semiintegrifolia". The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University and Jepson Herbaria. Archived from the original on 11 June 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  17. ^ "Amelanchier alnifolia var. semiintegrifolia". University of Maine. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  18. ^ a b Adam Augustyn (2021). "Saskatoon". Encyclopedia Britannica. Archived from the original on 23 September 2021. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  19. ^ Schorger, A.W. 1955. The Passenger Pigeon; its natural history and extinction. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison.
  20. ^ Dyrness, C. T.; 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 from the original (PDF) on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  21. ^ a b "Juneberries – Amelanchier alnifolia". Carrington REC. Archived from the original on 16 May 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  22. ^ The Xerces Society (2016), Gardening for Butterflies: How You Can Attract and Protect Beautiful, Beneficial Insects, Timber Press.
  23. ^ a b Little, Elbert L. (1994) [1980]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Western Region (Chanticleer Press ed.). Knopf. pp. 443–44. ISBN 0394507614.
  24. ^ Fagan, Damian (2019). Wildflowers of Oregon: A Field Guide to Over 400 Wildflowers, Trees, and Shrubs of the Coast, Cascades, and High Desert. Guilford, CT: FalconGuides. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-4930-3633-2. OCLC 1073035766.
  25. ^ a b "Introduction to Saskatoons". Archived from the original on 12 December 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2008.
  26. ^ a b St-Pierre, R. G. "Growing Saskatoons – A Manual For Orchardists". Archived from the original on 17 March 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2006.
  27. ^ Mazza, G; Davidson, CG (1993). "Saskatoon berry: A fruit crop for the prairies". In Janick, J.; Simon, J.E. (eds.). Archived copy. New crops. New York: Wiley. pp. 516–519. Archived from the original on 7 December 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2005.{{cite encyclopedia}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ "Saskatoon Berries". Government of Manitoba – Ministry of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  29. ^ "Britain plucks saskatoon berries from store shelves". CBC News. 7 July 2004. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  30. ^ O'Connor, Liam (13 July 2023). "Saskatoon Berries chosen as name for new Western Canadian Baseball League team". CBC News. Archived from the original on 1 August 2023. Retrieved 3 August 2023.

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