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Serviceberries!

5 June 2013

Much to my surprise, the serviceberry flowered while it was still in its pot from the nursery, then began putting out fruit just days after I transplanted it.  The deer got some of them before I built a fence around it, but about 20 berries survived and ripened.  I’ve been eating them right off the tree as soon as they ripen, because that’s the best way to eat berries.  Today, nine of them became ripe, which is the most that have done so at once.  I managed to restrain myself just long enough to take a picture of them before devouring them.

I expected them to have a stronger flavor based on how enthusiastically other blogs praise the virtues of the serviceberry.  Perhaps I’m just not caught up in the hype, or perhaps I have a milder cultivar, or perhaps they are milder because the plant was transplanted while the berries were growing.  This individual is Amelanchier lamarkii, which, if I’m understanding all the jargon correctly, is a cultivated hybrid and would not be found in the wild.  Perhaps I will be able to track down some wild serviceberries now that I know how to identify them better.

The flavor is still quite interesting, though.  It’s definitely similar to blueberry, but more mellow, and with a fruitier flavor.  The best description I’ve come up with so far is “blueberry plus tropical punch”.  When I ate one of the unripe red berries, it tasted like blueberry plus strawberry or raspberry.  My father says they have an apple aftertaste, which I don’t detect at all.  My mother says they are almost flavorless, which surprises me, since she has a very sensitive sense of taste and thinks many flavors are overpoweringly strong.

Each berry also contains a few tiny seeds, about half the size of and roughly the same shape as a grain of white rice.  I assume I could just swallow them and pass them like eggplant seeds, but I spit most of them out.

I’m very excited about how well the plant is doing.  It hasn’t put out any new growth (I’ve noticed many plants do most of their new growth at specific times of the year), but it seems very healthy.  The fact that it produced ripe, tasty fruit while transplanting is, I hope, a good sign of its future.  I’m looking forward to many serviceberries in the years to come.

You can view a series of 5 pictures taken over the course of a week in today’s set, demonstrating the process of ripening.

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