Front Page

Summer Issue

Summer Fruits

Manitoba's Fruits and Berries

More Favourite Fruits






Summer Fruits

Some of Our Favourite Fruits

By Johnny Caryopsis (Click links for more images.)


(Amelanchier alnifolia)

The Saskatoon, and no, I don't know the relationship between the city and the plant (though one might suspect that the city was named for the abundance of the plant?), is a common shrub in forested areas of Manitoba. It can even be found occasionally as a pioneer in prairies and meadows. It is a tall shrub (to 3 m) usually growing in clumps of many upright stems. Deciduous forest is its usual habitat, but it occurs throughout forested parts of Manitoba.

Saskatoons flower early, in mid-May, and the fruit (a pome) is ready to pick by early to mid-July. They are probably the second most sought after "berry" (behind blueberry) in Manitoba. They are sweet and great to eat raw, and make great jams, jellies and pies. Saskatoons are eaten by all kinds of birds and mammals. When they are thick on the bushes, bears will pull down entire plants to get at the tasty berries.

Click for some more images!


American Wild Strawberry
(Fragaria vesca)

Smooth Wild Strawberry
(Fragaria virginiana)

There are two kinds of wild strawberries in Manitoba. American wild strawberry (F. vesca) is probably the more common variety in the southwestern 1/3 of the province, growing in moist grassland and forest edge habitats. The smooth wild strawberry (F. virginiana) is more often found in drier sites, with well-drained sandy soils, but both species are common throughout Manitoba.

Strawberries are low growing, herbaceous (non-woody) plants that spread by means of runners (stolons): horizontally growing stems that root and produce new plants. Both species flower in May and the fruits are ripe by late June or early July. The "berry" of a strawberry is unlike other berries. It is formed from the enlarged receptacle of the flower and the seeds are located on the outside of the fleshy "berry".

Both kinds of wild strawberries produce delicious small fruits. Because the plants, and berries, are small and close to the ground, wild strawberries are often overlooked by berry-pickers. If you can harvest enough of them they are terrific on cereal and can add flavour to cakes and muffins. It would be hard to pick enough of them to make jams or jellies. Many birds, insects and small mammals will readily make a meal of them.

Click for some more images!

Our modern large-fruited, commercially-grown strawberry, and its many varieties, are thought to have arisen from the crossing of hardy smooth wild strawberry (F. virginiana) with a large-fruited Chilean species (F. chiloensis). The former was brought from eastern North America to Europe in the 1600's; the latter arrived in Europe later, in the 1700's. Two centuries of selective breeding have produced the huge-fruited varieties found in garden catalogues today.

(Fruits of F.virgininana)


(Prunus pensylvanica)

Pin cherry is a common shrub throughout forested parts of Manitoba, but it grows best in deciduous forest regions with rich, moist soils. The bright red "cherries" (drupes) hanging in cherry-like bunches make this plant easy to recognize when the fruits are ripe. It can grow to be a small tree (up to 4 m tall, with stems to 10 cm in diameter), but is usually a tall shrub with upright stems. It spreads slowly by suckers: new shoots that grow from its spreading roots.

Pin cherry flowers bloom in late May to early June and the cherries will ripen in late July and into August. The fruits are tart, but tasty and make excellent jellies. Small mammals like chipmunks and squirrels like to eat them and many birds do, too. Despite the presence of hydrocyanic acid, many birds and mammals will still eat the hard "pits" within the cherries.

Click for some more images!

CAUTION: Pincherries, Chokecherries and other plants of the Genus: Prunus, contain poisonous hydrocyanic acid in their seeds (pits), leaves and bark. Only the flesh of these fruits should be eaten.


Carry on for More Favourite Fruits!

You can help NatureNorth produce more great articles with a secure donation through PayPal. Our Google Adsense ads pay our server costs, but that's about it. To learn more follow this link: Support NatureNorth. Thank-you!

Return to: Summer Issue | NatureNorth Front page