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(beginning stages of identification for the serviceberry)21601479318

Primary Facts

  • The Amelanchier leaves is commonly known as the smooth shadbush or Allegheny serviceberry.
  • It is a small tree that can sometimes be mistaken for a scrub, since it can grow up to 30 ft tall.
  • This shadbush produces edible fruit (pomes) and its bark can be used to make herbal medicines for mothers bearing children. 


Physical Characteristics, Measurements and Description

“Allegheny serviceberry is a small, deciduous, usually multi-trunked understory tree or tall shrub which is native to thickets, open woods, sheltered slopes and wood margins in Eastern North America where it typically grows 15-25’ (less frequently to 40’) tall. Features showy, 5-petaled, slightly fragrant, white flowers in drooping clusters which appear in early spring (April) before the leaves. Flowers give way to small, round, edible berries which ripen to dark purplish-black in June (hence the sometimes common name of Juneberry) and resemble blueberries in size, color and taste. Berries are often used in jams, jellies and pies. Finely-toothed, obovate leaves emerge with a bronzish-purple tinge in spring, mature to lustrous dark green in summer and turn red-orange in fall. This tree is primarily distinguished from the very similar Missouri native downy serviceberry (A. arborea) by its hairless (laevis means smooth) foliage, purplish-tinged new growth and tastier (sweeter and juicier) berries”(http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org).


According to authors Floyd Swink and Gerould Wilhelm in their 4th Edition, annotated guidebook Plants Of The Chicago Region, they provide a helpful description that helps systematically identify the plant via further descriptions and given locations, “Like arborea , this species is found in high dunes.  Outside of the dune area, it is rather scarce.  In Berrien County (Michigan) it associates with Acer saccharum (sugar/rock maple), Carex pensylvanica (yellow sedge), Quercus velutina (eastern black oak), Smilacina racemes (false Solomon’s seal) and Viburnum aceriflorum (maple-leaf Viburnum).  It also grows in bogs with Larix laricina (eastern larch)”(100).  


Leaf and Bud Structure: The leaves are simple, alternate and regularly toothed and are often bronze in color, especially when young. They may be somewhat pubescent beneath when young, but become glabrous (smooth/ no hairs) at maturity. The buds are relatively large (up to 10-12 mm) and long tapering to a sharp tip and each bud has more than 2 visible outer scales, often at least partly reddish.

Stem: The plant may develop a single trunk, but they are almost always multiply-stemmed from the base.  The bark is smooth and gray, and the trunks are often less than 10 cm in diameter.The flowers are showy with bright white petals opening in May or early June and producing numerous red or purple fleshy fruits (see natural cycle below).

Flowers: The plant contains white flowers with glabrous (smooth) pedicels that range from 2” to 4” long.  Flowers are excepted to bloom in late April, but weather permits the appearance of the showy but short-lived white flowers.

Fruit:  The plant produces a deep (blood) red pome fruit that attracts many birds and other animals living in the ecosystem.  Usually the fruit is 0.66” in diameter.

Bark: Contains slender glabrous stems with a reddish brown stem color. Older bark is a dull gray, usually smooth in texture.

Nutrition:  Like most plants, Amelanchier laevis requires full sunlight, however it prefers to grow wet sites.  Also, this plant is generally pruned up to form small tree and transplants easily.


Secondary Facts & Identifiers

Landscape Uses

  • for bark effect
  • specimen planting
  • small grouping
  • flower effect


  • rusts, scales, aphids and mildews

ID Features

  • long, pointed buds with silky white hairs
  • 0.5” long
  • buds are green with red edges
  • white flowers held in long racemes
  • black, edible fruit
  • alternate leaf arrangement



  • by seed

Something You Should Know…

Amelanchier leavis has a few different varieties of its original form, these varieties include: Cumulus, Prince Charles, R.J. Hilton and Snow Cloud.   



 Natural Growth Cycle of the Amelanchier laevis
plant flowers and young leaves flowers and young leaves dissected flower showing glabrous ovary mature leaf fruit


Swink, Floyd, and Gerould Wilhelm. Plants of the Chicago Region: A Checklist of the Vascular Flora of the Chicago Region, with Keys, Notes on Local Distribution, Ecology, and Taxonomy, a System for the Qualitative Evaluation of Plant Communities, a Natural Divisions Map, and a Description of Natural Plant Communities. 4th ed. Indianapolis: Indiana Academy of Science, 1994. Print.








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