Spring brings on some mighty powerful bloomers like the floriferous and flashy Saucer Magnolias and Kwanzan Cherries. But some spring gems are over-shadowed by these flamboyant bloomers, and Serviceberry is one of them. Apparently bright splashes of color are a bigger draw – a lot like the packaging of trendy name brands over the boring generic.

We feel Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora) is anything but generic. First, the light gray, smooth bark is highlighted in a winter landscape, especially noticed in the clump forms. Second, spring brings white flower clusters at the branch’s tips covering the canopy in a white cloud. Third, small green clusters of fruit appear after flowering then turn red, purple and finally blue when ripe. Lastly, cold autumn nights bring on great fall color in shades of yellow-orange and red, rivaling the Cherries and surpassing Magnolias. Other pluses: the flower fragrance (slightly sweet!), it’s a wildlife magnet (birds love the fruit and so do people!*) and it’s a dappled shade provider and thriver (creates a haven for Hellebores, Heuchera and Hostas)!

Serviceberry is a small tree growing about 20′ high with an upright habit and uncongested branching on a multi-stemmed plant. It can be used in foundation plantings, in the shrub/mixed borders, along property lines, for naturalizing and in large island beds. It grows naturally along streams as an understory tree, so moist soil in partial shade is preferred – too much shade though can squelch flowering, fruit production and the fall color.

Wondering what it tastes like? The fruit is similar in taste to blueberries – an interesting choice for a Locavore’s pie! *

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