Amelanchier alnifolia

Botanical Name : Amelanchier alnifolia
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Amelanchier
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Species: A. alnifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Synonyms Aronia alnifoliaNutt.
Common names: Western Service Berry, Shadbush and Saskatoon Serviceberry.

Other Names:Saskatoon, Saskatoon berry, serviceberry, sarvisberry or Juneberry

Habitat: Western and Central N. America – Saskatchewan and south to Colorado and Idaho. Thickets, woodland edges and banks of streams in moist well-drained soils. It grows from sea level in the north of the range, up to 2,600 metres (8,530 ft) altitude in California and 3,400 metres (11,200 ft) in the Rocky MountainsSmall bushy forms grow on fairly dry hillsides .

Description:
It is a deciduous shrub or small tree that can grow to 1–8 m (rarely to 10 m) in height. Its growth form spans from suckering and forming colonies to clumped. The leaves are oval to nearly circular, 2–5 cm long and 1–4.5 cm broad, with margins dentate mostly above the middle and a 0.5–2 cm petiole. The flowers are white, about 2–3 cm across; they appear on racemes of 3–20 together in early spring while the new leaves are still expanding. The fruit is a small purple pome 5–15 mm diameter, ripening in early summer.

CLICK & SEE
There are three varieties:
1.Amelanchier alnifolia var. alnifolia. Northeastern part of the species’ range.
2.Amelanchier alnifolia var. pumila (Nutt.) A.Nelson. Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada.
3.Amelanchier alnifolia var. semiintergrifolia (Hook.) C.L.Hitchc. Pacific coastal regions, Alaska to northwestern California

It is hardy to zone 2 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from June to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a rich loamy soil in a sunny position or semi-shade but thrives in any soil that is not too dry or water-logged. Plants are fairly lime tolerant, they also grow well in heavy clay soils. Hardy to about -20°c according to one report , whilst another suggests that this species is hardy to about -50°c. 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. 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. A very variable species, ranging from a thicket-forming shrub to a small tree in the wild. It is occasionally cultivated for its edible fruit, there are several named varieties. A stoloniferous species, spreading by suckers to form a thicket. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Grafting onto seedlings of A. lamarckii or Sorbus aucuparia is sometimes practised in order to avoid the potential problem of hybridizing.

Propagation
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. 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. 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.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit.

Edible Uses: Tea.

Edible fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit ripens in mid summer (early July in southern Britain), it is soft and juicy with a few small seeds in the centre. A very nice sweet flavour that is enjoyed by almost everyone who tries it, there is a hint of apple in the taste. About the size of a blackcurrant, the fruit is produced in small clusters and the best wild forms can be 15mm in diameter. The fruit can also be dried and used as raisins or made into pemmican. The fruit is rich in iron and copper. The leaves are a tea substitute.

Saskatoon berries contain significant Daily Value amounts of total dietary fibre, vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and biotin, and the essential minerals, iron and manganese, a nutrient profile similar to the content of blueberries.

Notable for polyphenol antioxidants also similar in composition to blueberries, saskatoons have total phenolics of 452 mg per 100 g (average of Smoky and Northline cultivars), flavonols (61 mg) and anthocyanins (178 mg), although others have found the phenolic values to be either lower in the Smoky cultivar  or higher. Quercetin, cyanidin, delphinidin, pelargonidin, petunidin, peonidin, and malvidin were polyphenols present in saskatoon berries.

Particularly for saskatoon phenolics, inhibition of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes involved in mechanisms of inflammation and pain have been demonstrated in vitro.

Medicinal Action &  Uses
Appetizer; Birthing aid; Contraceptive; Diaphoretic; Febrifuge; Laxative; Ophthalmic; Stomachic.

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. It is little used in modern herbalism. An infusion of the inner bark is used as a treatment for snow-blindness. A decoction of the fruit juice is mildly laxative. It has been used in the treatment of upset stomachs, to restore the appetite in children, it is also applied externally as ear and eye drops. A decoction of the roots has been used in the treatment of colds. It has also been used as a treatment for too frequent menstruation. A decoction of the stems, combined with the stems of snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp) is diaphoretic. It has been used to induce sweating in the treatment of fevers, flu etc and also in the treatment of chest pains and lung infections. A decoction of the plant, together with bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata) has been used as a contraceptive. Other recipes involving this plant have also been used as contraceptives including a decoction of the ashes of the plant combined with the ashes of pine branches or buds. A strong decoction of the bark was taken immediately after childbirth to hasten the dropping of the placenta. It was said to help clean out and help heal the woman’s insides and also to stop her menstrual periods after the birth, thus acting as a form of birth control.

Other Uses
Shelterbelt; Soil stabilization.

Plants have a spreading, suckering root system and are used in windbreaks for erosion control. Young branches can be twisted to make a rope. Wood – hard, straight grained, tough. Used for tool handles etc. The wood can be made even harder by heating it over a fire and it is easily moulded whilst still hot. The young stems are used to make rims, handles and as a stiffening in basket making.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Amelanchier+alnifolia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelanchier_alnifolia

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