Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
The main ornamental features of Downy Serviceberry are flowers and fall color, the fruits are not as ornamental as with other species. How’s this for a bunch of confusing names. Downy Serviceberry can be called apple shadbush, northern smooth shadbush, shadblow, shadblown serviceberry, shadbush, or shadbush serviceberry; take your pick. This large native shrub or small tree has a moderate growth rate in most soils. Multiple stems are upright and highly branched forming a dense shrub with many small-diameter branches or, if properly pruned, a small tree. Trees can be trained to, and are offered by nurseries, with one trunk. The thin, ashy gray bark is smooth on the branches and upper part of the stem and breaks into shallow fissures on the short trunk.
The leaves of Downy Serviceberry alternate on short stalks off of the stems. The 2 to 4 inch leaves start off with a purplish brown color and then turn bright green. The young leaves are covered with scattered silky hairs. They are oval to elliptic in shape. The top half of the edges is toothed while the bottom is smooth. The fall color is orange to red.
The flowers of Downy Serviceberry are plentiful, fragrant, and grouped in showy white clusters or racemes of 3-20 flowers, appearing before the leaves from March to June. The flowers have numerous stamens and five narrow petals. They cluster in groups of three to six blooms at the ends of branches. They begin to bloom in their first year producing a profusion of short spikes of pure-white, 1-inch flowers.
The fruit is sweet, edible, and looks like dark purple to purple black blueberries appearing in early June into August. Unfortunately, most birds and animals of the forest or your back yard eat the serviceberry fruit leaving few for you to munch on. If you can protect the plant from the birds, the berries can be used in jams, jellies, and wines.
Downy Serviceberry Choices
Ballerina has large white flowers with an upright growth habit and good fall color.
Glenform (Rainbow Pillar TM) has a columnar form with good fall color. It reaches a height of about 12 feet.
Prince William is a large, multi-stemmed shrub that fruits very heavily. In other respects it is similar to the species.
Refzam (Reflection TM) is an oval, upright tree reaching a height of 25 feet and spreading 20 feet. It is a vigorous tree with the same ornamental traits as the species.
Sprizam (Spring Glory TM) is an upright cultivar that reaches a height of 12 feet and a spread of 9 feet. The fall foliage color is dark yellow and orange.
Trazam (Tradition TM) develops a strong central leader and an oval to upright habit. It will reach a height of about 30 feet and a spread of 20 feet.