Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Serviceberry Smoothie, Anyone?

I have three serviceberry (Amalanchier sp.) trees underplanting a silver maple. Our landscape designer recommended these when we moved into the house about 9 years ago. The name immediately put me off. Service-berry? It just sounded so utilitarian and boring. These trees have turned out to be anything but.

Yes, the white flowers blanketing the tree in May are spectacular, and it puts on a good show in the fall, but my favorite time of year to see a serviceberry in action is right now.

My three trees are covered in jewel-tone berries that the birds are going crazy over. I have to beat them to the ripe ones, though, because serviceberries are edible for humans too! My little ones and I picked a bowl of deep purple ones (that's how you know they are ripe) and ate them fresh off the tree. I think they taste like a combination of blueberries and cherries, and they have been found to be higher in protien, calcium, fiber, and many other nutrients than blueberries and strawberries. In fact, researchers in Canada are developing ways to grow and bring the fruit to the commercial market. We blended them up with some frozen strawberries, vanilla yogurt, apple juice, and a cucumber and split a First-Day-of-Summer celebratory smoothie three ways.

I include a serviceberry in as many of my clients' landscape plans as I can. Not only are they a great native landscape tree with four-season interest, they are also drought tolerant and attract birds. It's perfect for underplanting large shade trees, or for a small spot as it only grows to about 12 feet tall in sun, 8 feet tall in shade.

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