Serviceberry (also called shadbush or Juneberry) is the first small white flowering tree you will see blooming in mid to late April in the woods along Highway 12. Serviceberry is a four season charmer. It has a beautiful, five petaled white flower in spring, purple berries that the birds love in June, beautiful fall color and handsome, smooth grey branches in the winter. The berries are very sweet and edible and can be picked right off the tree, eaten, or mades into pies or jam, if you want to deprive the hungry birds. To grow serviceberry only requires well drained soil and full to part sun.
There are potentially five different species you might see in Porter County growing in the wild, but the two most common in the dunes region are downy or eastern serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) and Allegheny serviceberry (A. leavis), the downy or eastern being the most abundant. So if you would like to grow the most common, naturally occurring species, look for these two.Both downy and Allegheny serviceberry are considered small trees, reaching heights of 15 to 25 feet. Both prefer acid, moist well-drained soils, commonly found in our region, while the Allegheny serviceberry prefers full to part sun and the downy does best in part shade. A cultivar of Allegheny serviceberry ‘Prince Charles’, according to the Morton Arboretum, has new leaves that emerge bronzy-red, turning blue-green in summer, then change to an attractive orange-red fall color.
For a more compact serviceberry, reaching only eight feet at most, try Saskatoon serviceberry (A. alnifolia). ‘Regent,’ a cultivar of Saskatoon, is even more compact, growing only 4-6 feet tall. Another popular cultivar of serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora “Autumn Brilliance”) is known for its extra showy fall foliage. It also is considered a small tree, growing to 20 to 25 feet.
The species and varieties of serviceberry are quite numerous and are available at many local nurseries, mail order purveyors, and home improvement stores. If you find one that you think you might like, it is quite easy to look it up on the web sites of the Morton Arboretum (www.mortonarb.org) or Missouri Botanical Garden (www.missouribotanicalgarden.org,) for further information on height, sun soil, or shade requirements.
If you have questions about serviceberry or other native or non-native plants, don’t hesitate to contact Terry Bonace (firstname.lastname@example.org), Candice Smith (email@example.com), or Bill Schaudt (firstname.lastname@example.org) for assistance. Also please visit our website, www.bserg.org, for further information on invasive plants and native replacements.