Forage Friday #102 Serviceberry

Hello Friends! Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Serviceberry In Bloom 40621a” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

Please remember that Forage Friday is presented as trivia and not to be mistaken for medical advice.

One of the true blessings of the Appalachian Spring is of course the opening of the serviceberry bloom. The little frilly looking flowers with a set of tell-tale brown scales at the base just seem to suddenly erupt from the forest edges. They’re usually a few weeks ahead of the dogwoods but are often mistaken for some exotic form of dogwoods by the casual observer.

My grandfather would sometimes recall one of his favorite treats from his childhood during the Great Depression as being serviceberry pie. I can’t seem to recall the exact description He gave but I could tell from the look in his eyes that he was watching himself as child climbing into the trees to gather the berries. And I’ve heard similar stories from others of that generation. So much so that I don’t really understand why a cottage industry of authentic Appalachian serviceberry baked goods wasn’t a thing.

Serviceberry was apparently a favorite among Native Americans as well. It was often included in pemmican which, for those who may not know, is a mixture of meat, fat and fruit that lasted a very long time under primitive conditions.

Aside from pies the fruits can be used to make jam, pastries and as a general snack. The flavor is semisweet and often described as having a mild apple taste. The modern American diet has become so sugary that a lot of old time fruits and sweets don’t seem to trigger the brain’s pleasure centers like they used to. However I can assure you from personal experience that after you cut out heavy sweets for a couple of months those modern candies are almost intolerable and something like serviceberry becomes just right. It’s also a different experience because at that point you’re able to detect subtle nuances in the flavor that was overridden by the sugar before. I see it as being like noticing a masterpiece of art that you couldn’t appreciate before.

The nutritional facts are as follows:

Potassium – 133.3 grams

Vitamin A – 1.3% RDI

Vitamin C – 26.7% RDI

Calcium- 1.3% RDI

Folate – 2.7 RDI

Iron – 2.7 RDI

Magnesium-2.7 RDI

Phosphorus – 2.7 RDI

In reviewing a government study on the nutritional value of serviceberry I noticed that it seems to high in polyphenols which is the same classification of substances that is credited with giving chaga and turkey tail mushrooms some of their medicinal values. While the study didn’t cite any particulars on that they did list some traditional Native American medical uses.

It’s not surprising that Native Americans used the fruit juice as a laxative but what struck me was that it was used as eye and ear drops. The boiled bark of serviceberry was a handy disinfectant for the natives and boiling the roots made a treatment to prevent miscarriages after injuries. A tea made from the twigs was given to women after childbirth and a tonic from the bark was believed to help expel the placenta.

Native Americans also found the wood itself to be useful. The smaller branches and twigs were good for weaving. While thicker pieces made good arrows, canes, canoe frames and digging sticks. To be used as a digging stick in particular the wood had to be tough and hard. They even used it to make pipe bowls.

That’s it for tonight’s Forage Friday.

Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.

Announcement 2.0

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