apple serviceberry, Amelanchier lamarckii
Amelanchier is an old French name for snowy-mespilus (Amelanchier ovalis); lamarckii is Latin for the French scientist Lamarck who worked during the late 1700s and early 1800s.
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.
NATIVE RANGE AND HABITAT
Apple serviceberry is a naturally occurring hybrid between downy serviceberry (A. arborea) and smooth serviceberry (A. laevis).
The Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission does not rank apple serviceberry as a plant of conservation concern.
Growth Habit and Form
Apple serviceberry is a naturally occurring hybrid between Amelanchier arborea and Amelanchier laevis that grows 15 to 25 feet tall. It exhibits characteristics intermediate between those of the parent species. Multiple stems are upright and highly branched forming a dense shrub, or if properly pruned, a small tree with a vase shaped form and an irregular outline or silhouette.
Leaves are simple, alternate, and 2 to 4 inches long. Newly emerging leaves are purplish and slightly pubescent (covered with short soft hairs), a character that distinguishes the hybrid from its parents. The fall color is yellow to orange.
Apple serviceberry offers white flowers that are larger than those of other serviceberries. White flowers occur in fleecy clusters (panicles). The flowers are borne in early spring and are at first tinged with pink but later fade to white.
The fruit is edible, sweet, 3/8 inch across and red to purple at maturity.
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
Most of the cultivated varieties of serviceberry are selections of Amelanchier x grandiflora.
‘Autumn Brilliance’ has persistent leaves that prolong the fall season, and rapid growth.
‘Autumn Sunset’ has pumpkin-orange fall color and exceptional drought tolerance.
‘Ballerina’ has large flowers nearly 1 inch across and purple fall color.
‘Cumulus’ is a tree form with exceptionally abundant flowers.
‘Royal Family’ series (‘Princess Diana’, ‘Prince Charles’, and ‘Prince William’) have abundant flowers, excellent fall color, and attractive form.
‘Robin Hill’ offers distinctly pink buds that fade to white flowers and tree-like habit.
‘Rubescens’ reaches 20 feet in height. It has rosy pink buds that open to very pale pink flowers.
Apple serviceberry is superior to either parent species in that it suckers less and is adaptable to a wide variety of soils in pH range from 4.0-8.0. Apple serviceberry grows in sun or partial shade. It tolerates drought but not wind. Apple 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.
Hardy in USDA Zones (4)5 to 8(9).
Slow to medium
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 softwood cuttings.
Diseases and Insects
Apple serviceberry is susceptible to rusts, blights, powdery mildew, leaf minors, leaf spot, borers and scale.
Many birds and animals are extremely fond of the fruits.
Apple serviceberry can be trained to grow with a single trunk. Plants need little pruning to develop a strong structure.
TRADITIONAL AND MODERN USES
Apple serviceberry has been in cultivation since 1870.