• Paul

Berries for the Bloomingdale Trail

Join us tomorrow, Thursday, July 14, to celebrate the mighty (and fleeting) serviceberry with a special summer treat from Miko’s Italian Ice.

When: Tomorrow, Thursday, July 14 at 12 PM – 10 PM

Where: Miko’s Italian Ice, 2236 N Sacramento Ave, Chicago

RSVP at our Facebook page

Made from berries foraged by Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, Miko’s limited-edition Serviceberry Ice highlights the delicate flavor of this hardy local perennial.

Serviceberries (aka Juneberries, or sarvisberries, or saskatoons) are plentiful up on the Bloomingdale Trail, across the whole 606, and throughout Chicago. Tasting like a mild blueberry, the berries are slightly nutty and sweet, and make excellent jam and pies — as well as Italian ice! join us to celebrate this seasonal fruit, in the Bloomingdale Trail tradition of making something wonderful out of something overlooked and taken for granted.

All proceeds from the sale of Serviceberry Ice go to benefit Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, the community stewards of the Bloomingdale Trail, the heart of The 606. Supplies are limited! Get your cup Thursday (and maybe Friday) at both Miko’s locations in Logan Square (2236 N. Sacramento) and Bucktown (1846 N. Damen), both open noon – 10 pm.

The small, deciduous, shrublike trees produce white flowers in spring before fruiting with red to dark purple (the ripest) berries for a few short weeks in early summer. A member of the Rose family, Amelanchier genus — which also lays claim to crabapple, plum, peach, and cherry trees, as well as myriad varieties of hawthornes — there are as many as 25 species of serviceberry native to the U.S. The most common species found in Illinois is the Downy Serviceberry (easily identifiable by its unusually hairy leaves), but other species are regularly found as well, such as the Allegheny (or “Smooth”) Serviceberry, and the Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry whose leaves, appropriate to the name, blaze bright red in the fall. Its the Autumn Brillance that are planted on the Bloomingdale Trail.

The tree is believed to take its name from the European Service Tree (or Sorbus domestica), which it visually resembles, but regional folklore holds that the flowering branches were once popularly used to adorn the altars of small Appalachian churches in spring — hence, the “service berry.” Another bit of fancy traces the name to the coincidence of the trees’ flowering along with the spring thaw — the season when, in rural Midwest communities, one was finally able to bury the winter’s dead.

In addition to being edible the serviceberry is also an environmental sentinel built into the design of The 606. The serviceberry, as well as other plants like the weeping forsythia, serve as indicator species to track and measure climate change along the corridor. There’s a five-day blooming difference in the serviceberry shrubs along the Bloomingdale Trail’s nearly three miles. Citizen scientists can measure how that bloom time changes slightly year to year to year.

Many thanks to Mike Roombos at Miko’s for his support, and to our berry-picking brigade: Anastasia Davies Hinchsliff, Angelique Grandone, Julie Pomerleau, Emliy Plagman, Ashley Robinson, Martha Bayne, and Selah, Ben and Dawn Helphand.


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