One of the current items in nature’s cupboard is the Serviceberry, also known as Juneberry, since they ripen in June. There are several wild varieties (Amelanchier spp.), but in less you are looking to plant some in your garden, the differences seem irrelevant as all are edible. Like the strawberry and dwarf raspberries, that I was also picking this past weekend, these are members of the Rose family (and the fruit is referred to as a pome if anyone asks).
According to my Peterson Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, this perrenial shrub can grow up to 10m tall. Where I hike I’ve never seen it grow higher than 1m (3 feet) and I tend to find it along open rocky sites, growing in amongst blueberries and one of my other favorites, Sweetfern.
This is an unappreciated fruit, to say the least. The ripe fruit are round, blue, dark purple or almost black when ripe and are slightly juicier, sweeter and larger than wild blueberries, at about 8-12mm.
Here are two great resources to bring on your hikes to help you with plant identification:
• Forest Plants of Central Ontario; Lone Pine Publishing
• Peterson Field Guides – Edible Wild Plants, Eastern/Central North America
As with any wild plant:
• harvest/consume only those that you can identify positively
• when in doubt ask an expert in the area
• Learn to distinguish from any similar poisonous plant (if applicable)
• Sample sparingly at first to gauge individual sensitivities/allergies
• Understand which parts of which plants may be consumed as many edible plants have toxic parts/structures
• Harvest only when/where abundant
• Do not harvest plants that are endangered or in need of protection