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; Amelanchier Canadensis, the wild North American shrub which can grow up to 25 feet. 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 (although they perform best in 6.0-7.0 pH). Juneberries 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 pleasant odor similar to beans or meat, which is perhaps indicative of the berries' high protein content. The plants are self-fertile, which means only one variety is needed for a fruit set. We grow the Regent variety at Blue Fruit Farm, which is of the anifolia species. We found the Regent shrubs to be highly productive and to produce excellent quality fruits.
Remember: if you want to grow Juneberries, be sure to purchase Amelanchier Alnifolia (which grows to 4-6 ft) rather than Amelanchier Canadensis (which grow 20-25 ft). Not surprisingly, juneberries typically ripen in late June and into early July. Often confused with blueberries due to their mild and sweet flavor, 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.
Elderberries have a wide range of uses, but is most suited for processing due to the astringent taste. Perhaps most common in the United States is elderberry wine, though elderberry cordial is also well-liked. The berries also make delicious jellies, juices, syrups, salad dressings, and can be used to enhance barbecue sauces. Historically, it has been used for its medicinal properties, taken as a tincture or concentrate. The fruits, leaves, and inner bark can all be used to produce dyes. There are some reports of the inner bark having insecticidal properties.