From Academic Kids

Missing image

Amelanchier lamarckii in flower
Scientific classification

About 25; see text

The Serviceberry (Amelanchier), also known as juneberry, mespilus, shad-blossom and shadbush, is a genus if about 25 species of small deciduous trees and large shrubs in the family Rosaceae. The genus has a wide distribution in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, with the majority of the species in North America and single species in Europe and Asia.

The name serviceberry comes from the similarity of the fruit to the related European Service Tree, Sorbus domestica, a name that in turn is derived via the French sorbier from the Latin name for the tree sorbus, recorded by Pliny the Elder. A widespread folk etymology states that plant's flowering time signaled to early American pioneers that the ground had thawed enough in spring for the burial of the winter's dead.

The leaves are alternate, entire or finely serrate, oval, 2-10 cm long and 1-4 cm broad, green, often turning brilliant orange or red in the fall. The flowers are white, 2-4 cm diameter, with five petals, and borne in terminal racemes of 5-25. The fruit is a small pome, 1-2 cm diameter, blue-black, edible and often sweet, maturing in summer (whence the name 'juneberry').

Serviceberries are preferred browse for deer and rabbits, and heavy browsing pressure can suppress natural regeneration. Brimstone Moth, Gypsy moth and other defoliating insects also have a taste for serviceberry. The same insects and diseases that attack orchard trees also affect this genus, in particular trunk borers and Gymnosporangium rust. In years when late flowers overlap those of wild roses and brambles, bees may spread bacterial fireblight.


(Species names are often used interchangeably in the nursery trade)

  • Amelanchier alnifolia - Juneberry, Saskatoon Serviceberry
  • Amelanchier arborea - Downy Serviceberry
  • Amelanchier asiatica - Asian Serviceberry
  • Amelanchier bartramiana
  • Amelanchier basalticola
  • Amelanchier canadensis - Thicket Serviceberry
  • Amelanchier confusa
  • Amelanchier florida
  • Amelanchier humilis
  • Amelanchier laevis - Allegheny Serviceberry, Smooth Serviceberry
  • Amelanchier lamarckii (syn. A. grandiflora)
  • Amelanchier ovalis - European Serviceberry, Snowy Mespilus
  • Amelanchier sanguinea
  • Amelanchier spicata
  • Amelanchier stolonifera - Running Shadbush
  • Amelanchier utahensis - Utah Serviceberry

Uses and cultivation

The Native American food pemmican was flavored by serviceberry fruits in combination with dried meats, and the stems were made into arrow shafts.

The fruit of several species are excellent to eat raw, though their popularity with birds makes harvesting difficult. Fruit is harvested locally for pies and jams. Serviceberries are also very popular ornamental shrubs, grown for their flowers and fall colour. All serviceberries need similar conditions to grow well, requiring good drainage, air circulation (to discourage leaf diseases), watering during drought and acceptable soil.


Propagation is by seed, divisions and grafting. Serviceberrys graft so readily that grafts with other genres, such as Crataegus and Sorbus are often successful.


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