Name: Chuckley Pear
But Really: Serviceberry*
Why It’s Here: Sustenance. Animal and human sustenance.
This is What it Looks Like:
The serviceberry is a shrub of the Rose family, native to the Northern Hemisphere (at least one is native to each state!**). Of European etymology, the blooming of the serviceberry indicated that the Appalachian mountains were once again passable, and that the ground was again workable so that you could dig holes for the dead folks from winter. Additionally, Native Americans used the bark for arrow shafts and body armor. George Washington planted some Amelanchier on his estate in Virginia.
I’m not tryna have this read like the back of a wine bottle (“with hints of coffee, cacao, and magenta”), but it really does have a slight and brief hint of almond in there. It’s rather sweet, especially when dried, with semi-prominent seeds inside, but it has a flavor (“profile”) you’re just going to have to taste for yourself. At its sweetest, it reminds me of a cherry. And Zach, who dislikes blueberries, is all about these.
Nutrition: like blueberries, but with higher levels of antioxidants and vitamins. This is likely because the serviceberry is less of a commercial/cash crop than the “average” blueberry these days, as in less modified and hybridized for farming purposes (and thereby screwing with its nutrition). But like whatever I guess. Just know they’re good or “better” for you, and eat them.
If you’re at WestCo and you’re just not seein’ it – or our few bushes seem to have been picked pretty well by animal or human – look at Clark. There are about sixish mature serviceberries there. Some angsty squirrels might be hanging around them, too. Granted, they’re not ours, but I don’t think the University has very strict campus foraging rules.
Till the next time,
*Or saskatoon, or juneberry, or sarvisberry or shadbush or shadblow or sugarplum or shadwood…among others. Don’t worry about it.
** Not Hawaii though.