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Serviceberry

CAROLINA GROWN

serviceberry-polomski

 

Serviceberry
Amelanchier spp.

Photo: Dr. Robert Polomski


 

Serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.) are delectable, three-season native shrubs and trees. They’re appreciated for their flurry of white flowers in the spring and their tasty blueberry-sized fruit in late May and early June. In the fall, their foliage bursts into shades of gold, orange and red. After their leaves are shed, their attractive smooth gray bark offers winter interest.

For gustatory value, consider these three fruiting serviceberry species. The shrubby, multistemmed shadblow serviceberry (A. canadensis) reaches a height of 15 ft., while Juneberry (A. laevis) is more treelike; it develops multiple trunks and grows 25 ft. high and wide. The apple serviceberry (A. x grandiflora) is the most attractive of the bunch.

This natural hybrid between downy serviceberry (A. arborea) and Juneberry grows 15 to 20 ft. tall and wide. It becomes a multi-trunked, heavily branched small flowering tree that suckers less than its parents and is adapted to a wide range of soils; it also tolerates some drought. Apple serviceberry produces larger clusters of fleecy-white flowers than other serviceberries. They give rise to red fruits, although they’re not produced in great numbers.

Sadly, serviceberries are plagued with many of the insects and diseases that attack other members of the rose family; however, the damage is usually cosmetic rather than life-threatening. Also, the various species and cultivars are difficult to identify, particularly in mid-season.

Nevertheless, if you want to pick the right serviceberry for your landscape, follow the fruit – provided the birds saved some for you.