Whether a small tree or large shrub, any Serviceberry cultivar will offer natural charm and edible fruit to your garden.

Sometimes called Shadbush or Shadblow or Juneberry, there are approximately 10 to 15 Serviceberry species that are considered native to Canada. A member of the genus Amelanchier, serviceberries will gift homeowners with a stunning display of showy white lilac-like flowers in the spring, and bright foliage with pretty, gray bark in the fall. It produces blueberry-like fruit that actually taste a great deal like blueberries that can be used in preserves and baking.

Serviceberry showy spring blossom.

The species is hardy to Zone 1 in Canada and are found throughout Ontario, as far north as James Bay. Tree-sized species include Saskatoon serviceberry (A. alnifolia) found near the Ontario-Manitoba border, downy serviceberry (A. arborea) native to southwestern Ontario, and smooth serviceberry (A. laevis) found from Southern Ontario north to Lake Superior.

Planting Tips

Size: Up to 12 m tall

Moisture: Moist to dry sites

Shade: Partial shade to full sun

Soil: Adaptable to all but water-logged soils. Serviceberries transplant easily due to their fibrous root systems. They can be purchased and pruned as single-stem specimen trees or naturalized and allowed to form multi-stemmed clumps or hedgerows. Smooth serviceberry will sucker least and is best suited to growing as a tree.


Serviceberries ripening,

Care Tips

Organic fertilizer applied around the drip line in six-week intervals during the growing season will keep growing serviceberry trees looking their best. The serviceberry is in the rose family so it can suffer from the same type of problems as roses do. Be on the lookout for Japanese beetles, spider mites, aphids and leaf miners, as well as borers. Powdery mildew, rust and leaf spot may also occur. To avoid serious problems with insects and disease, keep your serviceberry as healthy as possible.

Pruning Tips

Serviceberries require pruning yearly; late winter or early spring is best before the new leaves appear. Inspect the tree for deadwood, diseased wood and crossed branches. Use clean and sharp pruners to remove just what is necessary. Leaving some old growth is important, as the flowers form on old wood.

A versatile and pretty addition to your yard, the Serviceberry can be grown as a tree or as a shrub.

History

Serviceberry fruits were a staple food of the Cree tribes of the Prairies, who mixed the dried berries with bison meat to make pemmican.

In the maritimes, the bloom time of the tree coincides with the spring shad fish season, so the tree was locally called the ‘shadbush’ or ‘shadblow.’

The first settlers in the new world often planned funeral services at the same time that this tree bloomed. Its blooming was a sign that the ground had thawed sufficiently to be able to dig graves. So the tree became known as the ‘serviceberry tree.’

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