Foraging Wild Fruit: Shadbush

Photo of Shadbush fruit

Known for their showy white flowers in late April and early May, Shadbush (Amelanchier spp.) shrubs and small trees bear ripe fruit in June and July. In eastern Massachusetts, where I used to live, Shadbush fruit would rarely develop properly. Instead, I'd find fungi-infected trees with ill-formed fruit. Here in Maine, Shadbush tends to fare better. I still find plants with deformed fruit and diseased leaves, but more often I encounter plump and juicy treats.

Photo of Shadbush fruit

Shadbush fruit feature a five-parted calyx, and look and taste similar to blueberries, but have chewy, almond-flavored seeds. Shadbush leaves are simple, toothed, and alternately arranged. There are several species of Shadbush in our area, though identification to species level is not necessary, as all bear edible fruit. If you want to geek out, visit Go Botany for a detailed dichotomous key to the Amelanchier species of New England. Shrubs and trees of the genus Amelanchier have many common names, including Juneberry, Serviceberry, Shadblow, and Saskatoon.

Photo of Shadbush fruit

This weekend, in addition to Shadbush fruit, I gathered and enjoyed the offerings of Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus), Hairy-stemmed Gooseberry (Ribes hirtellum), Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis), Pin Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), and Blueberry (Vaccinium sp.).

Note: Unripe fruit of a Shadbush tree were featured in Quiz #109: Wild Edibles.

One thought on “Foraging Wild Fruit: Shadbush”

  1. My experience in MA is exactly what you say. Ill formed fruit, and also produced in low numbers. The birds don’t seem to mind them, though. Good to hear there are better pickings in Maine. I have read that in some parts of the country, this is an extremely abundant wild edible.

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