Saskatoon varies in size from being a shrub to a small tree, one to five metres tall. It has dark grey to reddish bark. It has thin, oval leaves and the purple to nearly black berries are edible and sweet.
RANGE & HABITAT
The saskatoon can be found on dry, open, warm slopes at low to middle elevations. It does not like the shade and is only found in open forests like the ponderosa pine forest. In B.C., this plant grows in the Southern Interior and the Southern Interior Mountains ecoprovinces.
Saskatoon reproduces with underground root systems as well as seeds that are spread around by the birds and mammals that eat them. Because of its root propagation, it is a great plant to have after a fire because it will survive in the burned areas.
Many hoofed animals feed on the saskatoon in the winter and the berries are a good source of nutrients for birds late in the summer.
TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES
The fruit was used in soups, stews, meat dishes, pemmican and dried cakes. Saskatoon berry juice was used to cure stomach ailments, and is a mild laxative. The juice was also used to make eye drops and eardrops. Arrows and pipes were made from the stems of the saskatoon.
It is used to help re-grow disturbed sites and is still an important food for many people.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk
Photo: Nancy Turner