Serviceberry: Plant This or That

Looking for a small sun or shade tree that does it all? Native serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) is a fantastic choice.  Serviceberry can be a small single stemmed tree or a vase shaped shrub. It loses it leaves during winter but more than makes up for it throughout the rest of the year.

IMG_1499It’s an early spring bloomer also called ‘shad bush’ because it blooms the same time shad begin their spawning runs up freshwater tributaries to the Chesapeake. In your garden, fresh white blossoms will light up the shade. Those blossoms turn to red berries that morph into pretty interesting seed pods.  Birds love both so berries and seed pods tend to be fleeting.

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Serviceberry attracts oodles of native pollinators.  It’s also easy to grow.  We planted two beneath huge mature trees in deep shade and two as street trees in heavy sun and clay – all good.  Once fall arrives, serviceberries explode with yellow and orange color beaming even in heavy shade.  That’s certainly a plus.


If you are looking for a small shade tree, serviceberry is a terrific native alternative to Japanese maples and kousa dogwoods.

For more information:

From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, click here.

About the connection between fish of the Chesapeake and names of trees, check out this short post from Civic Works in Baltimore.



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Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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