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Downy serviceberry--aka June berry or common serviceberry—provides four-season interest and is a valuable source of food for wildlife. A member of the rose family, it’s a multi-trunked shrub or small tree with a rounded crown and many spreading branches. Grayish “downy” leaves and fragrant, five-petaled white flowers emerge in April-May, followed by tasty red berries in summer. Serviceberry is one of the earliest small trees to bloom in spring and is one of the finest small trees for fall beauty with colors varying from yellow and orange to red and burgundy. It is a self-fertile plant and makes a lovely specimen tree. In the fall, birds will clean the trees of berries, but furrowed gray bark and artistic branching patterns provide beauty all winter long.


Often found along woodland borders or stream banks, on hillsides and mountain slopes, in open woods, and on edges of swamps. They may be planted in a broad range of areas, from lawns, patios and ponds to meadows and woodlands. They are a valuable addition as an accent plant, shade tree, or screening hedge.


Plant Characteristics:

Grows 15’-40’ tall with variable spread. Growth will be on the higher side with more root space, such as in the wild.


Prefers full to part sun.


Adaptable to a variety of sites and soils, including alkaline, acidic, sandy, loam, clay, moist, and well drained. Tolerates occasional wet or dry.


Wildlife Value:

Host plant for the larvae of 105 Lepidoptera, including eastern tiger swallowtail, red-spotted admiral, and viceroy butterflies. The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract honeybees, andrenid bees, halictid bees, syrphid flies, tachinid flies, buprestid beetles, and other insects. In addition to 105 larval feeders, several types of beetles and sawflies feed on serviceberry. The fruits attract many species of birds and mammals, including hairy woodpecker, hermit thrush, cedar waxwing, Baltimore oriole, black bear, squirrels, red fox, skunk, chipmunk, and mice. Beaver and deer browse the bark and twigs.


Medicinal, Edible and Other Uses:

Serviceberry fruits taste similar to blueberry, and make delicious pies, jam, and preserves. Native Americans ate the fruits fresh or dried them for cakes and pemmican (a blend of meat, tallow and dried berries). Medicinally, an extract of the bark was used as an anti-diarrheal medication.

Serviceberry, Downy, Amelanchier arborea

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