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Saskatoon - Amelanchier alnifolia





"Amelanchier alnifolia semiintegrifolia is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft 10in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 2 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Jun to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]

General: "Shrub or rarely a small tree, 1-6 (10) m tall; stems slender, smooth; twigs smooth, reddish-brown; bark greyish to red-brown; sometimes spreading by rhizomes or stolons and forming dense colonies." [IFBC-E-flora]
Leaves: "Alternate, deciduous, oval to oblong-elliptic or nearly round, saw-toothed mostly on top half but sometimes nearly entire, broadly rounded to somewhat squared-off at the tip, smooth to variously hairy at least below; blades 2-5 cm long, stalks 0.5-2 cm long." [IFBC-E-flora]
Flowers: "Inflorescences short, drooping to erect, leafy or bracted, terminal racemes at the ends of branches; flowers 3 to 20, on slender ascending stalks; corollas white, the petals 5, linear to lanceolate, 6-25 mm long; calyces 5-lobed, the lobes lance-triangular, 1-5 mm long, the hypanthium 1-2 mm long; ovaries inferior, smooth or hairy on top; stamens about 20." [IFBC-E-flora]
Fruits: "Berry-like pomes (like miniature apples), crowned with the persistent calyx, globe- to egg-shaped, 5-14 mm long, dull red initially, becoming purple to nearly black, with a white bloom." [IFBC-E-flora]

Identification and Taxonomic Notes
"Amelanchier cusickii flowers 10 to 15 days before A. alnifolia, which suggests that these two are genetically distinct. G. N. Jones (1946) noted that A. alnifolia and A. cusickii frequently grow together but that there is “no evidence of hybridization.” It should be noted that Jones discounted hybridization in the genus, even denying hybrid status to A. x neglecta." - Campbell & Doucette [E-flora]

Notes: Four intergrading varieties occur in BC:

1. Petals less than 12 mm long; tops of ovaries strongly hairy.
2. Flowers generally with 4 styles; leaves entire or with a few tiny teeth near tips................. var. humptulipensis (G.N. Jones) C.L. Hitchc.
2. Flowers generally with 5 styles; leaves usually strongly toothed on upper half..................... var. alnifolia
1. Petals over 12 mm long; tops of ovaries hairy or smooth.
3. Petals generally less than 16 mm long and 4 mm wide; calyx lobes averaging less than 3 mm long; top of ovary woolly....................var. semiintegrifolia (Hook.) C.L. Hitchc.
3. Petals generally greater than 16 mm long and up to 8.5 mm wide; calyx lobes averaging more than 3 mm long; top of ovary smooth to moderately hairy...................... var. cusickii (Fern.) C.L. Hitchc.


USDA Flower Colour: White
USDA Blooming Period: Late Spring
USDA Fruit/Seed characteristics:

Colour: Purple
Present over the Summer [USDA-E-flora]

Amelanchier alnifolia. non Nutt. A. florida. A. oxyodon [PFAF]
Amelanchier alnifolia var. pumila (Torr. & A. Gray) C.K. Schneid. [E-flora]
Amelanchier basalticola Piper [E-flora]
Amelanchier cuneata Piper [E-flora]
Amelanchier glabra Greene [E-flora]
Amelanchier polycarpa Greene [E-flora]

Ecological Indicator Information
"A shade-tolerant to shade-intolerant, submontane to montane, North American deciduous shrub distributed equally in the Pacific, Cordilleran, and Central regions. Occurs on moderately dry to fresh, nitrogen-medium soils within boreal, cool temperate, cool semiarid, and cool mesothermal climates. Its occurrence increases with increasing continentality, and decreases with increasing precipitation and elevation. Common to scattered in clearings and open-canopy Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine stands on water-shedding sites. Characteristic of young seral forests on disturbed sites."[IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range
"Dry to mesic, open rocky slopes, bluffs, gullies, thickets, forest margins and open forests in the lowland to subalpine zones; common throughout BC, especially in C and S BC, east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; N to AK, E to AB and S to CA, NE, ND, CO and AZ." [IFBC-E-flora]
"THIS is a common shrub of the Northwest, ranging from western Ontario to British Columbia, south to Nebraska, Colorado, and California." [EWP]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"Saskatoon was quite widely employed as a medicinal herb by the North American Indians, who used it to treat a wide range of minor complaints[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism" [PFAF]


"Prefers a rich loamy soil in a sunny position or semi-shade[1, 200] but thrives in any soil that is not too dry or water-logged[11]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are hardy to about -35°c[160]. All members of this genus have edible fruits and, whilst this is dry and uninteresting in some species, in many others it is sweet and juicy. Many of the species have potential for use in the garden as edible ornamentals. This species is particularly interesting because it is quite compact and produces an excellent quality quite large fruit[K]. The main draw-back to this genus is that birds adore the fruit and will often completely strip a tree before it is fully ripe[K]. This species loses its leaves early in the autumn, especially in dry years[K]. Closely related to, and included as a sub-species of A. alnifolia by most botanists. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. Grafting onto seedlings of A. lamarckii or Sorbus aucuparia? is sometimes practised in order to avoid the potential problem of hybridizing[1]." [PFAF]


"Seed - it is best harvested 'green', when the seed is fully formed but before the seed coat has hardened, and then sown immediately in pots outdoors or in a cold frame. If stored seed is obtained early enough in the autumn, it can be given 4 weeks warm stratification before being left out in the winter and it should then germinate in the spring. Otherwise seed can be very slow to germinate, perhaps taking 18 months or more. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a sheltered outdoor position, planting them out once they are 20cm or more tall. If there is sufficient seed it is best to sow it thinly in an outdoor seedbed[78, 80]. Grow the seedlings on for two years in the seedbed before planting them out into their permanent positions during the winter. Layering in spring - takes 18 months[78]. Division of suckers in late winter. The suckers need to have been growing for 2 years before you dig them up, otherwise they will not have formed roots. They can be planted out straight into their permanent positions if required." [PFAF]


  1. Duke -, Accessed Dec 23, 2014
  2. E-flora -, Accessed March 31, 2015
  3. PFAF - Accessed March 31, 2015

The information presented on this site is provided for educational purposes. Self diagnosis and treatment, without due diligence, could be harmful and is not encouraged. Some information & images may be copyright. Every effort has been made to present the information in the spirit with which it was originally presented. Some data has been omitted for legal and/or practical consideration. There is some data not covered in the scope of this project, including, but not limited to, cell culture and large-dose animal studies. I have made comparisons and links between related species which may later prove erroneous. I have not verified the information for accuracy and I accept no responsibility for its authenticity. Many of the plants presented are poisonous, have poisonous properties, or could cause illness through misuse, allergic reaction, drug interactions and environmental contaminants. Please use caution and mindfulness when harvesting plants for any use.

Page last modified on 03-02-2017