Canadian Serviceberry, an Important Food Source

Canadian Serviceberry has stunning white flowers rising above the foliage in early spring before the leaves. It has green foliage throughout the season. The oval leaves turn an outstanding in the fall. It produces blackberries in late spring. They are a very important source of food for people and wildlife.

Quick Growing Guide

Botanical Name: Amelanchier canadensis

Botanical Family: Rosaceae

Also Called: Canadian Serviceberry, Eastern Serviceberry, Juneberry, Serviceberry, Shadblow serviceberry, Shadbush Serviceberry

En français: Amélanchier du Canada.

Colours:

Blooms:

Sun / Shade:

Water: Likes wetness and water logged soils

Pollinators:

Hardiness Zones:

Serviceberry trees are a great way to add some greenery to your yard! These native trees from North America grow easily and give your yard three seasons of colors with their red, purple and yellow leaves!

Where to Plant Serviceberry

In nature, find this shrub for clearings, borders, fence-lines.

It si best planted in woodland, naturalized or native plant gardens, especially with dark or shaded backdrops which tend to highlight the form, flowers and fall color of the plant. Also effective along stream banks, lakes and ponds.

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.

Edible

The red or dark purple fruit are typically sweet and juicy, although some, like Amelanchier arborea are drier and don’t have as much flavour. They are all edible although, with local conditions such as soil and weather dictating their exact taste and juiciness. As they are early bloomers, they are a very important source of food for emerging insects.

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

Propagating Amelanchier canadensis

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.

Caring for Canadian Serviceberry

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a somewhat wide range of soils.

Companion plant suggestions include Calycanthus floridus, Cornus florida, Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron vaseyi, Viburnum dentatum, and Coreopsis verticillata.

Amélanchier du Canada.

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.

Other

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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