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smooth serviceberry

Amelanchier_laevis_treesmooth serviceberry, Amelanchier laevis

Scientific Name

Amelanchier is an old French name for snowy-mespilus (Amelanchier ovalis); laevis is Latin for “smooth.”

Common Name

Smooth serviceberry is from the lack of hairs on the leaves and flower stalks, while serviceberry refers to the Appalachian tradition of holding memorial services for the dead that coincided with the blooming of the serviceberries. Serviceberry may be a derivation of the word ‘sarvisberry’ for the resemblance of the fruits to the sarvis tree or European mountain ash fruits. Another common name for the species is Allegheny serviceberry.

NATIVE RANGE AND HABITAT

Smooth serviceberry is native from Newfoundland to Georgia and Alabama, west to Michigan and Kansas. In Kentucky, it occurs infrequently in dry to wet woodlands of slopes, plateaus, and bottoms in the Appalachian and Interior Low Plateaus.

CONSERVATION INFORMATION

The Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission does not rank smooth serviceberry as a plant of conservation concern.

Amelanchier_laevis_fruitDESCRIPTION

Growth Habit and Form

Smooth serviceberry is a deciduous, multi-stemmed (2-3 trunks) large shrub or small tree with a rounded crown of many small branches. Plants will grow 15 to 25 feet in height with an equal spread. The tree is short-lived and has a rapid growth rate.

Leaves

Leaves are simple, alternate, and 1- to 3- inches long. New growth emerges as bronze purple. The fall color is yellow to red.

Flowers

White flowers occur in fleecy clusters (panicles) up to 4 inches long.

Fruit

The fruit is edible, sweet, 3/8 inch across and rich purple-black at maturity.

Bark

Young bark is reddish brown. The bark of older trees is dull grayish brown. Bark is thin and easily damaged from mechanical impact.

Wild and Cultivated Varieties

None

HORTICULTURE

Landscape Use

The smooth serviceberry grows in shade or partial shade as an understory tree. It is well adapted for planting beneath power lines due to its small size. Smooth serviceberry is best used in a naturalistic planting and to attract wildlife. It can be planted singly as a specimen or in groupings. The main ornamental feature is the white flowers borne in drooping clusters in mid spring.

Hardiness Zone

Hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 8(9).

Growth Rate

Rapid

Cultivation and Propagation Information

Serviceberries are extremely adaptable to a variety of sites and soils. Growth is best in full sun to light shade and moist, well-drained, acid soils. Transplant balled and burlapped or container grown plants into moist, well-drained, acid soil. Plants can be propagated by sowing seed that have undergone cold stratification, stored 90 to 120 days at 41 degrees F in moist medium.

Diseases and Insects

Downy serviceberry is susceptible to rusts, blights, powdery mildew, leaf minors, leaf spot, borers and scale.

Wildlife Considerations

Many birds and animals are extremely fond of the fruits.

Maintenance Practices

Smooth serviceberry can be trained to grow with a single trunk. Plants needs little pruning to develop a strong structure.

TRADITIONAL AND MODERN USES

The American Indians preferred the fruits.