ABOUT JUNEBERRIES

ROSACEAE

Relatives: apples, pears, cherry

Juneberries, also known as Serviceberries, are popular for their abundant spring blossom and good autumn color. They are sought after ornamental plants, are fully hardy, easy to control and suit smaller gardens. It has been used as a food source by the native Indians for many hundreds of years. They mixed the fruit with meat and fats, that dried the mixture to create pemmican, which was a stable food for winter. Early northerner pioneers also survived the winter by eating the dried berries. However, until ~ 20 years ago, the fruits were only harvested from the wild or picked from small cultivated plots, but there is now increasing interest in the commercial production of this species for its fruit.

DESCRIPTION

An upright, suckering shrub or small tree, 3 - 16 feet tall, 3 - 9 feet spread, with moderate growth. Spreads by underground stems. Its bark is silvery-reddish.

LEAVES: Thin, egg-shaped to tapering oval shape, deciduous, toothed, non-lobed, dark green leaves. Has spectacular yellow-bronze-red autumn color. Young leaves often have reddish tinge and fine pubescence, which disappears as they mature.

FLOWRERS: Attractive, creamy-white, five-petalled, star-shaped flowers in clusters of 3-20. They are borne on the previous year's growth from the leaf axis, with a few also occurring on older wood. They are vine, growing to ~ 32 feet and becoming deciduous in colder regions. Each leaf is divided into three leaflets, and the young foliage is bronze-red. Hand pollination will increase fruit production. This species is quite cold hardy, down to at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It can grow in full sun, though grows better with some shade. Dislikes root disturbance, and grows best in moist soil. It is a vigorous vine and may need to be controlled.

FRUIT: juicy, good-quality, sweet and tasty; like blueberries, but sweeter, and are often used as a substitute in colder regions. They are born in clusters. The berries are small and round, and turn from pink to blue black as they ripen, and develop a whitish bloom. They have small seeds. They usually ripen in early-mid summer. Young, vigorous branches usually yield the best-quality fruit.

CULTIVATION

Extremely adaptable, hardy and easy to grow, and will thrive under a wide range of environmental conditions.

LOCATION: Can be grown in sun or part shade. Likes fairly sheltered locations: is not very wind tolerant.

TEMPERATURE: Extremely cold tolerant. Although adapted to colder climates, they can also grow and fruit in hotter climates.

CHILLING: Will needs a period of chilling, similar to that of apples and pears (>500 hours), though does not seem to fruit in warmer areas, so chilling may not be as important for these species. Longer days may give better fruit production.

PRUNING: Should be done in early spring, after the danger of severe frost has passed and before the plants start to grow. Pruning can significantly extend the plant's life and improve health. Remove all weak, diseased, and damaged wood, and thin out the center to allow air and light to penetrate the canopy. Once plants are > 6-7 years old, prune out some older branches to encourage new, vigorous shoot growth. Older shrubs can be rejuvenated by cutting them back to ground level, and then allowing new sprouts to grow.

CULTIVARS

Saskatoon