Small, Flowering Trees in the Landscape: Serviceberry

Small trees with showy flowers are a special part of the spring landscape, treasured by naturalists, backyard enthusiasts and landscape professionals alike. Native species like Eastern Redbud (Cercis), Flowering Dogwood (Cornus) and Serviceberry (Amelanchier; Juneberry, Shadbush) are popular, early bloomers, as are the exotic Star and Saucer Magnolias (Magnolia). My focus in this post is the native plants, specifically  Serviceberry.

FloweringDogwoodFl5

Flowering Dogwood

Until recently, this locale was classified as Hardiness Zone 4 (minimum winter temperature reaching minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit). At these temperatures, the flower buds of Flowering Dogwood and Redbud freeze, but Serviceberry is unaffected. For a period of a week or so in late April or early May woodlands and forest edges are dotted with blooming Serviceberries, their vivid white flowers contrasting sharply with the brown, gray and pale green colors of the spring landscape.

Serviceberry6May13#044E

There are many species and cultivars of Serviceberry, including shrubby and small tree forms, and they’re not always easy to distinguish. The species that I’ve photographed is a small, native tree that I find very appealing.

Serviceberry6May13#130E

Serviceberry tree in full bloom in early May; this tree is fairly old and has reached a maximum size of about 8 inches in diameter and 25 feet in height

Serviceberry in full bloom (4):

Serviceberry6May13#039E

Serviceberry6May13#057E

Serviceberry1E

Serviceberry6May13#055E

The fact that Serviceberry thrives in this area and yields a delicious, blueberry-like fruit has led me to consider purchasing plants for my garden.  A cultivar of Saskatoon Serviceberry, grown for commercial fruit production in Canada and elsewhere, has been recommended. I plan to follow up on this, knowing that the Robins, Cedar Waxwings and other songbirds will likely beat me to the crop.

All photos by NB Hunter

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