Serviceberry – A Staff Favorite

By John Harrod, Manager, DuPont Environmental Education Center

One of my favorite native plants is in peak bloom today in the DuPont Environmental Education Center botanic garden: the serviceberry. Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) is a large shrub or small tree that grows 15-40 feet tall depending on the species and right now it is covered in white blossoms with strap-like petals. It is also known as shadbush because it blooms about the same time shad are swimming up the rivers to spawn. In the next few days those petals will create a soft rain of white as they drift to the ground.

Serviceberry Blossom. Photo by John Harrod.

 Fruit and vegetable gardening is becoming increasingly popular, but not everyone has the additional space for a new garden. If this is you, then my solution for you is to plant a serviceberry! It serves dual purposes as an ornamental and food source. It produces round, sweet fruits similar to a blueberry in the early summer. So to save space, plant the smallest of the species, Canada serviceberry (A. canadensis), into an existing ornamental flowerbed. The berries start out as a red and mature to a reddish-purple, and taste great. You will have to be quick to collect them since they are a favorite for many birds too, including catbirds and mockingbirds.

Serviceberry fruit. Photo by John Harrod.

As a season finale, the serviceberry has vibrant orange autumn foliage.

Serviceberry fall foliage. Photo by John Harrod.

Visit the DuPont Environmental Education Center on April 17th for the Copeland Native Plant Seminar to learn more about native plants with special guest Edgar David, tour of the 10-acre botanic garden with the garden’s designer, and put together a container planting with Gateway Garden Center. For more information click here

 After you see the plants, buy your own at the DNS Native Plant Sale at Coverdale Farm the first weekend in May! Canada serviceberry will be at the Sale.  For more information click here.

3 thoughts on “Serviceberry – A Staff Favorite”

  1. Is there a particular species of Serviceberry native to coastal Delaware? My parents are buying an estuarial property near Lewes, and something well suited there would be great.

  2. I would try Amelanchier canadensis or Amelanchier laevis. Both are native to the coastal plain in Delaware.

  3. Of the species that grow on the coastal plain, I suggest Amelanchier canadensis. It is naturally found in moist woods, fields and edges including edges of marshes and in maritime woods. This is generally one of the more available species in the nursery trade. Contact local retailers for availability or check out the Delaware Nature Society’s Native Plant Sale.

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