Juneberries

A fruit of many names, juneberries are also known as service berries, Saskatoon, and shadbush. Native to the northern United States and Canada, there are two main species of juneberries: Amelanchier arnifolia, the high-yielding species typically used for cultivation, and Amelanchier Canadensis, the wild north American shrub which may grow up to 25 feet in height. Regardless of species, juneberries thrive in cold climates and, unlike blueberries, do not require acidic soil. In fact, juneberries are able to tolerate a soil pH ranging from 4.8-8.0 (though they will perform best in 6.0-7.0 pH), and can also be grown in a wide variety of soil textures.

The plants flower in early spring, providing an early source of pollen for native pollinators. The flowers emit a unique odor similar to beans or meat (though not unpleasant!), which is perhaps indicative of the high protein content of the berries. Plants are self-fertile, meaning only one variety is needed for fruit set. We grow the Regent variety at Blue Fruit Farm, which is of the anifolia species. We have found the Regent shrubs to be highly productive and to produce an excellent quality fruit. Plants were locally sourced from Alpine Nursery just south of Houston, MN.

Remember: if you want to grow Juneberries, be sure to purchase Amelanchier alnifolia rather than Amelanchier Canadensis which are 20-25 feet in height compared with 4-6 ft.

Not surprisingly, juneberries typically ripen in late June and into early July. Often confused with blueberries due to their mild and sweet favor, the berries have also been compared to black cherries and blackberries. Wonderfully healthy, they provide an excellent source of iron, as well as high levels of protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants.

The fruits make for wonderful fresh-eating, and lend themselves to any recipe in which you would typically use blueberries. Muffins, salads, pies, and jams – you name it! They are also easily frozen, dried, or canned.