Do you know about the Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnipolia)? A member of the rose family, the Serviceberry is the first shrub to bloom in Spring. The dark blue berries and leaves are eaten by a variety of animals. Many indigenous peoples mixed the berries with fat and meat from buffalo or other animals, and used the mix for pounding into cakes and drying. These shrubs were a real game changer for Lewis and Clark, who originally had to use boats to transport large barrels of salted meat and fish on their journey west. Also called Juneberry, the fruit was used to make pies, jelly, and wine.
You may have noticed those clumps of thin twiggy branches in some large serviceberry shrubs. These are the result of being infected by the fungus (Apiosorina collinsii) and are commonly referred to as… ‘Witches broom’.
1) A Serviceberry shrub in bloom
2) Serviceberry bloom close-up
3) Witch’s broom in bloom
4) Witch’s broom close-up