The Hidden Orchard


It may not be in rows but it is right out in the open, throughout our cities, town, and countryside, across every province in Canada.  The shrubs or small trees that make up this orchard have been planted as an ornamental for generations.  It is a native plant of Canada, tolerant of severe cold, resistant to pests, displaying showy white flowers in spring, and brilliant red leaves in the fall, the fruit (small purple berries) are juicy and sweet.  You can substitute them in any Blueberry recipes with equal, some would argue better results.


Landscape architects have included this plant in parks and gardens at a much higher rate then other plants of its size due to its many positive qualities.  As a result, it literally seems as if this plant is everywhere.  In fact, Burlington city hall grounds include a number of large examples, and Spencer Smith Park has two very large specimens of this plant (right at the steps at the east entrance to the park).


Here is the irony.  The fruit is plentiful as in an orchard, yet few people in Canadian urban areas know how great the berries are.  It goes unseen as if hidden.  Tons of fruit fall to the ground as people walk by.  The fruit is practically all around and free for the picking.  Service clubs could add picking and selling these berries to their list of money raising programs.  People could indulge on them on their way to where ever, they just need to pause long enough to enjoy.


Guessed it yet?  Amelanchier Med (the Latin name). You may know this plant by a few names,[1]  Serviceberry, Juneberry, Allegheny Serviceberry, Downy Serviceberry, Saskatoon-berry, or Mountain Juneberry.  And you thought they were bird berries?  Well, birds like them too, they are delicious!

[1]  Caution:  Have the plant identified before eating its fruit.  Some plants are toxic to humans.