Saskatoon/Juneberries - cultivation and varieties


The most recent acquisition for my cookbook collection (which is admittedly, utterly out of control) has be now interested in Saskatoon/service/Juneberries. (“Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky”)

Technically, I’m zone 6a, although experientially it must be the very fringe because things that aren’t hardy past zone 5 are sketchy at best. I’m in West Michigan with sandy loam that leans toward the alkaline side of things.

Can I reasonably expect to plant some along a fence in full sun and get both berries and a bit of a visual barrier? (At least seasonally)

And what are the best varieties for flavor? Probably mostly in pies/baked good. Sweet/tart profile probably preferably over just super sweet.

Is this a serviceberry?

I have one in zone 6a and it is fine here. I have Northline, it is supposed to be a better tasting one, but can’t say as the animals keep stealing my berries. I added Honeywood this year, still waiting for it to arrive. I’m going to move my Northline to my cottage from here in the city, it may not survive, time will tell. Not many here have said much about service berries.
What cook book has those recipes?

I used Cornelian cherries or the dogwood cherry (cornus mas) as a hedge and it makes an excellent hedge. Wood grows low off the tree and stays there. Slow growing and takes time and pruning to get there. It took mine about 6 years to start to look decent. The berries are tart but not astringent, they are great for cooking. I make a syrup out of them for cordials and mixed drinks.


This one:


i have a western serviceberry i got thru rolling river nurseries bout 5 years ago. its about 6ft now and puts out a lot of berries but i don’t care for them as they are sweet but not much else. birds get into mine pretty heavy too. maybe a known cultivar will be better tasting? i have several wild eastern ones on the property but they don’t fruit much and are just as tasteless as the one i planted. many places compare them to blueberries but mine taste nothing like blues. its a nice looking bush so ill keep it and let the birds have them so they leave my other berries alone. :wink:


There is a pretty good summary of varieties here:


Anyone w actual experience trying multiple cultivars against each other?

Some like martin are marked excellent in the chart, curious what home-growers think about cultivar differences though


There are at least one wild type that grow in 6a Kansas Juneberries!. They are a real treat!


@markalbob That was the same sort of info I was hoping for. Some sites state that Northline is sweet/tart, while Smokey is very sweet. Martin often just rates “excellent” with no specification as to whether sweet or tart. The Lee hybrids are called “exceptional”, but I can’t find anyone who sells them.


Smokey, Northline, Regent… all pretty much taste the same to me. I was about to have my 1st Martin last year, but a bird got it. And it was about 4x the size of my other serviceberries! I like the taste, but definitely unique and not as good as a blueberry. Supposedly more antioxidants than the latter, and I can’t grow the latter in my soil here.


see I’ve had a number of serviceberries (mostly because I have a habit of grabbing a mittful here and there and just snacking) and most are sweet and berry-ish with a lot of almond overtones, but pretty insipid. I pulled suckers from a few sweeter ones that I am growing up for use in cooking/cordials/wines, but they are a couple years from fruiting.

I’m somewhat curious how significant the difference in cultivar is to the pleb class (myself included) or if these nuances of flavor are more a thing noted by…nursery catalog writers :slight_smile:


I would expect them to be fine, hardiness-wise. They’re a common (and fruitful) landscaping bush here in 6b, and they’re native to Canada, which is colder than you.


I’ve seen service berries growing down to z4b. 6a should be a beach vacation for them.


I’m in zone 4a in the Adirondacks in NY and we have Shadblow Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) which is native here. It doesn’t have a lot of berries on it and it gets to 20’ tall. Always the first tree to bloom in spring. The cedar waxwings come in and eat all the fruit when ripe and then they disappear.


Well those are one species (Amelanchier alnifolia), but other species exist in the family. Autumn Brilliance, the apple serviceberry is Amelanchier grandiflora. The fruit said to be good too. Sold mostly for it’s appearance.

Regent is said to be just sweet, considered the worst of those three.


I was actually more concerned that they might find zone 6 too warm.

I think markalbob and I we’re both hoping someone had actually grown enough multiple named varieties and could speak to the flavor differences. I liked the comment about the prole opinion vs. nurserymen.

Given the relationship to apples, I also wonder if there is a strong terroir.


im z3b and they grow wild here but I’ve never found a lot of berries on the wild ones. about the size of a med. blueberry.


funny thing is all the apples I’ve tried to grow here got killed by fireblight but i have 4 serviceberry and don’t have any issues with blight in them. i may rip out the no name one i have to replace with a named cultivar. its such a nice bush tho. :wink:


More research has been interesting. Apparently, University Extension decided a few years back that they’d make an excellent crop in Northern MI. There are now 100+ acres up there in Saskatoon berries. They’re pretty available in season at farmers’ markets and in the local supermarket chain. Some clever wag has even made a liquor out of them.

Perhaps I need to jiggle the elbow of the Extension Agent associated with the Saskatoon Renaissance (MI Style) and ask HIM.


Have you ever tried JB30? Just ordered some from the University of Saskatchewan.


I have not, but do you have a link to share? Have you planted other varieties, and are planning to compare?