Friday, April 14, 2006

Serviceberry, Amelanchier canadensis?

The serviceberries are in full bloom now. The tag on the plant at the nursey read "Shadblow". I had no idea what it was but the then small tree looked very nice so we bought all four which were available. This is a great landscaping small tree, covered with white flowers in spring and in June (also known as junberry tree) the trees are covered with berries. We've harvested many quarts of fruit and they make wonderful pies especially when mixed with blueberries. In the fall the leaves turn bright red,orange and yellow depending on the variety.

Shadblow apparently comes from the shad an ocean fish. Shad would run upstream to spawn in the spring coinciding with the flowering of the tree. Blow? I don't know. Maybe the fish breaking the surface of the water as in the breaching whales, "Thar she blows"?

Serviceberry, servicebush comes from the colonialists who thought the berries serviceable or just ok but alright to eat. Picky, picky, picky. The indians in the northwest would make pemmican by pounding the fruit with meat and drying it for consumption during the lean months of winter.

There are many varieties some bush like some tall as 20 + feet but all beautiful in my eyes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have actually heard a different explanation for the name of serviceberry. The Native Americans could not bury those that had died in the winter so they would wait until the serviceberry were in bloom. That's how they knew the ground would be thawed and able to be dug for burial. Interesting the folktales that go along with the common names, huh?

7:17 PM  

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