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Utah Serviceberry

Scientific Name:
Amelanchier utahensis
Family:
Native Name(s):
  1. Northern Paiute: ti'gabui (Kelly 1932)
Description:

Plant
Amelanchier utahensis is a shrub or small tree 2-4 m tall. Leaves are simple, and appear serrated from the middle of the leaf to the tip. White, showy, flowers form in clusters with five petals. Petals can appear narrow, and sometimes twisted. Fruits (pomes - fleshy receptacle with a tough central core containing seeds) are purplish to black in color and are often dry and pulpy. Seeds are long, reddish-brown, and range in size from 3.8-5.6 mm.

Identification tips
Variation in Amelanchier utahensis morphology can occur in sites where Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon serviceberry) is also present. However, A. utahensis often occupies more arid sites and has drier, pulpier fruits.

Starch granules
This species is starch deficient. No starch granules were observed in fruits or seeds.

Habitat:

Amelanchier utahensis grows on rocky slopes, canyons, and streambanks at elevations of 5000-9000 ft.

Distribution:

Amelanchier utahensis is found from California and Oregon east to Montana and south to New Mexico.

Ethnography:

Service berry fruits are consumed and the stems were utilized for arrow shafts and snowshoes.

As food
Northern Paiute: "Service berry (Amelanchier venulosa Greene [Amelanchier utahensis]) (ti'gabui) was kept overnight; otherwise they would give one a stomachache. They were crushed before being dried. Daisy said that ground a'gü' seeds were mixed with mashed fresh berries (particularly ti'gabui), or with dried berries which had been soaked, and the compound eaten without further preparation. It was called düma'iyu (mixture of any sort) or tütza'kiü (also mixture, but applying only to fruits and the like)." (Kelly 1932:100)

As clothing

Northern Paiute: "Snowshoes (sikü) were made by men...The frame was sometimes of willow, but usually of service, and was round." (Kelly 1932:149)  

As tools
Northern Paiute: "Arrows were of rose (tsia'bi), currant (poho'nobi), service (wükwü'kobü), tüa'bi, and possibly of young cat-tail (toibü)." (Kelly 1932:143)  

Pit River: "The harpoon (wenas) was a double-pronged affair with a red fir handle to which serviceberry prongs were tied.  Each carried a hollow-based, bone-pointed toggle (pit'cuda) with a line leading from its center to the harpoon handle." (Garth 1953:1236)

Modoc: "[In regard to the solid wooden shaft of arrows] Serviceberry." (Voegelin 1942:191)

Modoc: "[In regard to the composite hand rotated fire-drill] Serviceberry shaft, cedar point." (Voegelin 1942:193)

Pit River: "Flint-tipped arrows (kapsti) were made of cane or rose and had foreshafts of service, or they might be entirely made of service wood." (Garth 1953:153) 

Distribution Map: