HOME return to plant lists: habitats all plants riparian woodland sun subalpine butterflies birds
Serviceberry · Amelanchier alnifolia
Description: A deciduous shrub or small tree 3 to 16 feet tall. Leaves are simple, toothed along the upper half of the margin. Gorgeous white flowers appear April to July. They are arranged in short racemes of three to twenty flowers, and are followed by purple edible berries, cherished by birds. Serviceberry can be found growing in the wild in open woods from sea level to high elevations in the mountains on both sides of the Cascades, from Alaska to California and east to Quebec and New Mexico. Sun/part sun, regular-moderate water (drought tolerant), well-drained soil. Susceptible to rust when over-watered or exposed to too much overhead watering.
Serviceberry fruits may be eaten in a variety of ways - cooked, raw, or dried. From Northwest Foraging by Doug Benoliel: "use the fruit raw, cooked or dried. Their flavor makes for fine pies or jams. A handful of fresh fruit can liven up a bag of granola. The fruit can be dried and used as a substitute for raisins or currants". From Gardening With Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Arthur Kruckeberg: "Roy Davidson, skilled Northwest Plantsman, tells of yet another use: 'Certainly [serviceberry] was one of the constituents of the American Indian food caches - pounded fruit and meat together giving today's 'mince meat'.'"
From Irene Willey, Huelett, Wyoming
Return to Recipe Index
Lewis and Clark collected three serviceberry specimens in 1806 in present-day Idaho. From Lewis' journal entry of April 8, 1806: "the serviceburries, chokecherries, the growth which resembles the beach [red alder], the small birch and grey willow have put fourth their leaves."