Allegheny serviceberry, a laevis

Allegheny serviceberry

Tree & Plant Care

An understory tree best sited in part shade.
This is a great tree for naturalizing. Wonderful when mixed with conifers and hardwoods.
Intolerant of salt and drought.

Disease, pests and problems

No serious problems.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 8
Native to the Midwest and northeastern United States.
Commonly found in wooded areas.

Bark color and texture

Bark is smooth and silver-gray, with light vertical stripes.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple and alternate. Oval leaves emerge with a distinctive red tinge before turning green to dark green. Fall color varies from yellow to orange to red.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Fragrant white flowers in May; held on loose clusters.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Small, dark purple, 3/8” berry-like fruit (pome) is edible.

Cultivars and their differences

“This plant is a cultivar of a species that is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. Cultivars are plants produced in cultivation by selective breeding or via vegetative propagation from wild plants identified to have desirable traits.”

Cumulus Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis ‘Cumulus’): 20 to 30 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide; upright-oval form; flowers abundantly in spring; yellow to orange-red fall color.

Lustre® Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis ‘Rogers’): 20-30 fett high and 15 to 20 feet wide; upright habit; flowers abundantly in spring; leaves emerge purplish, become shiny green in summer and turn to ornage and red in fall.

Prince Charles Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis ‘Prince Charles’): 20 to 25 feet high and 12 to 15 feet wide; upright form. New leaves emerge bronzy-red, turning blue-green in summer, then change to an attractive orange-red fall color.

Spring Flurry® Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis ‘JFS-Arb’): 30 feet high by 20 feet wide; upright-oval form; orange fall color.

Related hybrids

The following are cultivars of Amelanchier x grandiflora, which is a hybrid between downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) and Alleghany serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis).

Autumn Brilliance apple serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’): 20 to 25 feet high and wide; red fall color.

Cole’s Select apple serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Cole’s Select’): 20 feet high and 15 feet wide; upright, spreading habit; orange-red fall color; thick, glossy summer foliage.

Forest Prince apple serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Forest Prince’): 20 feet high and 15 feet wide; oval habit and red-orange fall color.

Princess Diana apple serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Princess Diana’): 20 to 25 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide; upright habit, excellent red fall color.

Robin Hill apple serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Robin Hill’): 20 to 25 feet high and 12 to 15 feet wide ; upright-oval habit, red to yellow fall color.

Allegheny Serviceberry

Introduction: Allegheny serviceberry is a multistemmed small tree reaching up to 25 feet tall. It produces large white flowers in spring and bluish green fruit. Culture: Allegheny serviceberry grows best in partial shade; it will show signs of stress if grown in full sun in dry areas. This tree prefers well-drained, slightly alkaline to acidic loam or sand. Disease and insect problems include fire blight, spider mites and borers, which infest trees under stress from drought. Heavy nitrogen fertilization exacerbates the fire blight problem. Allegheny serviceberry is hardy in Zones 4 to 8, possibly 9.

Botanical Information

  • Native habitat: Eastern North America. Growth habit: Oval to upright vase shape. Tree size: Reaches a height of 30 to 40 feet with a spread of 15 to 20 feet.
  • Flower and fruit: Flowers are white and are borne in panicles up to 4 inches long. Fruit is black and sweet and attracts birds.
  • Leaf: Leaves are alternate, simple and 11/4 to 3 inches long with serrate margins. Leaves emerge purplish then become dark green in summer. Fall color is an excellent orange, red or yellow.
  • Hardiness: Winter hardy to USDA Zone 4.

Cultivars:

A. laevis ‘Cumulus’ – Usually grows from a single stem and has a moderately columnar growth habit. It is offered more commonly than the species.

Additional information:
Allegheny serviceberry is especially attractive when planted in front of an evergreen background. Botanist Francois Michaux wrote that the berries of Allegheny serviceberry were sold in Philadelphia markets. The wood of Allegheny serviceberry ranks among the heaviest in the U.S. Allegheny serviceberry has naturalized in Germany, England and the Netherlands. Allegheny serviceberry was introduced into the landscape in 1870.

Print fact sheet

Amelanchier laevis

  • Attributes: Genus: Amelanchier Species: laevis Family: Rosaceae Uses (Ethnobotany): Used by native Americans to make pemmican- a high energy cake made with the dried fruits, meat and fat for traveling. The bark has been used in herbal medicine. Life Cycle: Woody Recommended Propagation Strategy: Seed Stem Cutting Country Or Region Of Origin: Eastern North America Distribution: USA: AL , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC Fire Risk Rating: medium flammability Wildlife Value: Host plant for Red-Spotted Purple and Viceroy butterflies. Butterflies and other insects nectar at the blooms. Fruits are eaten by songbirds, ruffed grouse, small mammals, and large mammals. Mildly resistant to deer. Bees are attracted to the flowers. Play Value: Wildlife Food Source Edibility: Fruit tastes similar to a blueberry and can be used raw or cooked. Dimensions: Height: 15 ft. 0 in. – 25 ft. 0 in. Width: 15 ft. 0 in. – 20 ft. 0 in.

  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Native Plant Shrub Tree Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Habit/Form: Dense Irregular Multi-stemmed Multi-trunked Vase Growth Rate: Medium Maintenance: Medium Texture: Medium
  • Fruit: Fruit Color: Black Purple/Lavender Red/Burgundy Fruit Value To Gardener: Edible Showy Display/Harvest Time: Summer Fruit Type: Pome Fruit Length: < 1 inch Fruit Width: < 1 inch Fruit Description: Sweet berry-like pome that matures to purple. The berries resemble blueberries and are used in jams and jellies. The fruit attracts birds.
  • Flowers: Flower Color: White Flower Inflorescence: Raceme Flower Value To Gardener: Fragrant Showy Flower Bloom Time: Spring Flower Shape: Star Flower Petals: 4-5 petals/rays Flower Size: < 1 inch Flower Description: This plant has small, white flowers in the spring on 4 inch long racemes. Often blooms before ith leaves appear except in the northern most range.
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Leaf Color: Green Purple/Lavender Leaf Value To Gardener: Showy Deciduous Leaf Fall Color: Gold/Yellow Red/Burgundy Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Shape: Elliptical Obovate Ovate Leaf Margin: Serrate Hairs Present: Yes Leaf Length: 1-3 inches Leaf Width: 1-3 inches Leaf Description: Leaves are oval and 2 to 4 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. Margins are serrated, tips abruptly pointed, the base is rounded. New growth emerges as bronze-purple, turns glossy green in summer, and clear yellow to red fall color. The minimal amount of hairs on stalks and leaves makes this variety slightly different than other Amelanchier varieties.
  • Bark: Bark Color: Dark Gray Light Gray Surface/Attachment: Furrowed Smooth Bark Description: The bark is smooth and slate-gray with white, longitudinal stripes. On mature trees it splits and furrows becoming rough.
  • Stem: Stem Color: Brown/Copper Green Red/Burgundy Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Buds: Scaly Stem Surface: Hairy (pubescent) Stem Description: Twigs are slender and flexible, reddish-brown with fine hair. New growth is green. The buds are long and pointed, with scales that have reddish-yellow to reddish-green margins and usually have some hair
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Coastal Lawn Naturalized Area Pond Slope/Bank Woodland Landscape Theme: Edible Garden Native Garden Pollinator Garden Rain Garden Shade Garden Winter Garden Design Feature: Accent Border Flowering Tree Hedge Mass Planting Screen/Privacy Shade Tree Small groups Small Tree Specimen Street Tree Attracts: Bees Small Mammals Songbirds Resistance To Challenges: Deer Salt Urban Conditions

Plant Finder

Allegheny Serviceberry in bloom

Allegheny Serviceberry in bloom

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Allegheny Serviceberry flowers

Allegheny Serviceberry flowers

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Allegheny Serviceberry in fall

Allegheny Serviceberry in fall

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 20 feet

Spread: 15 feet

Sunlight:

Hardiness Zone: 4a

Description:

A native woodland tree with large showy flowers in spring and excellent fall colors; a great choice for small home landscapes; reliable and low-maintenance

Ornamental Features

Allegheny Serviceberry is blanketed in stunning clusters of white flowers rising above the foliage in early spring before the leaves. It has dark green foliage throughout the season. The oval leaves turn an outstanding orange in the fall. It produces blue berries in late spring.

Landscape Attributes

Allegheny Serviceberry is an open multi-stemmed deciduous tree with a more or less rounded form. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other landscape plants with less refined foliage.

This is a relatively low maintenance tree, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. It is a good choice for attracting birds to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Allegheny Serviceberry is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens

Planting & Growing

Allegheny Serviceberry will grow to be about 20 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 15 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 4 feet from the ground, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 40 years or more. While it is considered to be somewhat self-pollinating, it tends to set heavier quantities of fruit with a different variety of the same species growing nearby.

This tree does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn’t be allowed to dry out. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This species is native to parts of North America.

It is spring at last in the woods when the Amelanchier flower.
“The bark is smooth, gray, conspicuously marked by a slightly twisted network of darker vertical lines” (Farrar).
The twigs, buds and fruit are an important food source for many animals.
Amelanchier can be a confusing genus with several species, hybrids and cultivars available in the trade, many of which are distributed with conflicting nomenclature.
“When you venture into the botanical maze searching for the specific identity of a serviceberry, you may never return. Taxonomists themselves …. do not agree on the division of the Amelanchier genus into species” (Blouin).
The most commonly available tree-sized Amelanchier species are downy serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea, and the Allegheny serviceberry, Amelanchier laevis. They are very similar in size and appearance and both make lovely, small, early spring-blooming trees for sites that aren’t too harsh. Amelanchier xgrandiflora is a hybrid between these species with many more profusely blooming cultivars. Shadblow serviceberry, Amelanchier canadensis is a multi-stemmed shrub.
These trees are a wonderful native choice for urban sites where the native soils haven’t been stripped and compaction and road salt isn’t too heavy. Named cultivars are improving on heat and drought tolerance with choices in height and fall colour.
Henry Gerhold conducted a street tree trial that examined the performance of various cultivars (Gerhold).

Cooperative Extension Publications

Developed by Marjorie Peronto, Associate Extension Professor, University of Maine Cooperative Extension; and Reeser C. Manley, Assistant Professor of Horticulture, University of Maine.

For information about UMaine Extension programs and resources, visit extension.umaine.edu.
Find more of our publications and books at extensionpubs.umext.maine.edu.

Go native!

This series of publications is the result of a five-year research project that evaluated the adaptability of a variety of native trees and shrubs to the stresses of urban and residential landscapes in Maine. Non-native invasive plants pose a serious threat to Maine’s biodiversity. Plants such as Japanese barberry, shrubby honeysuckle, and Asiatic bittersweet, originally introduced for their ornamental features, have escaped from our landscapes, colonizing natural areas and displacing native plants and animals. By landscaping with native plants, we can create vegetation corridors that link fragmented wild areas, providing food and shelter for the native wildlife that is an integral part of our ecosystem. Your landscape choices can have an impact on the environment that goes far beyond your property lines.

Description

Photo by Reeser C. Manley

Form: a tree with multiple upright, undulating trunks and a rounded canopy

Size: 25 to 35 feet high and from two-thirds to three-quarters as wide

Ornamental characteristics:
erect, pyramidal clusters of white flowers in mid April, before the leaves appear
mid-summer berries that change color from red to purple or black before being taken by birdsorange to red fall foliage

Landscape Use

Photo by Reeser C. Manley

Allegheny serviceberry is a small understory tree of cool, moist deciduous forests and upland slopes, often found growing with American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) and American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), as well as sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red oak (Quercus rubra), and pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia). While its native habitat indicates tolerance for shade, Amelanchier laevis will also thrive in full sun if heat and drought can be avoided. Trees under severe summer drought stress often defoliate by mid August, depriving the landscape of the rich orange and red autumn leaves. In sun or shade, a moist, well-drained soil, mulching, and summer irrigation are keys to success with this species.

A. laevis can be a focal point of the spring and autumn landscape, and thus is effective as a specimen tree. Or, consider planting it as an understory tree in the woodland garden, where birds and small mammals will quickly take the ripened berries. In either case, give it the room it needs to flourish. A mature tree will grow 30 feet tall and nearly as wide. This serviceberry’s growth habit is more tree-like than its close relative, shadblow serviceberry (A. canadensis), with one to three main trunks bearing upright branches.

Culture

Drawing by Margery Read

Hardiness: USDA zone 3a

Soil requirements: prefers moderately to well-drained soils

Light requirements: full sun

Stress tolerances:

soil compaction — intolerant
pollution — intolerant
deicing salts — intolerant
urban heat islands — intolerant
drought — intolerant
seasonal flooding — intolerant

Insect and disease problems: infrequent

Wildlife Value

Allegheny serviceberry is an early spring nectar source for bees and butterflies, and an occasional host for the larvae of viceroy, striped hairstreak, and Canadian tiger swallowtail butterflies. The berries are relished by cardinals, waxwings, hairy woodpeckers, thrushes, catbirds, orioles, and robins, as well as by squirrels and chipmunks.

Maintenance

Irrigation: During the establishment period, defined as one year after planting for each inch of trunk diameter at planting time, you should water your trees regularly during the growing season. Give the root zone of each tree 1 inch of water per week; in general, a tree’s root zone extends twice as wide as its canopy. After the establishment period, provide supplemental irrigation during periods of severe drought.

Fertilization: Landscape trees and shrubs should not be fertilized unless a soil test indicates a need. Correct soil pH, if necessary, by amending the backfill soil. No nitrogen fertilizer should be added at planting or during the first growing season.

To learn more about native woody plants

Visit the Eastern Maine Native Plant Arboretum at University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Penobscot County office, 307 Maine Avenue in Bangor. Established in 2004, the arboretum displays 24 different native tree and shrub species that can be used in managed landscapes.

Reviewed by Cathy Neal, Extension professor, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.
Photos by Reeser C. Manley.
Illustration by Margery Read, Extension Master Gardener.

This series of publications and the associated research were made possible in part by the Maine Forest Service’s Project Canopy.

Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2008

Call 800.287.0274 (in Maine), or 207.581.3188, for information on publications and program offerings from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, or visit extension.umaine.edu.

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Amelanchier laevisAllegheny Serviceberry

DESCRIPTION

Allegheny Serviceberry
Amelanchier laevis

Allegheny Serviceberry is a native tree for all seasons. In April and May it has beautiful white flowers that are delicately scented and provide nectar for the season’s early bees and butterflies. In mid summer its fruits ripen to brilliant violet pink, aging to deep blue purple when fully ripe. Its leaves play occasional host to the larvae of viceroy, striped hairstreak, and Canadian tiger swallowtail butterflies. And the grand finale comes in fall with brilliant oranges, yellows and reds as the leaves prepare to drop. Amelanchier laevis is found in moist woods and meadows, but tolerates most any garden situation. It will bloom more in full sun, but have a more open and graceful habit in shade. It is drought tolerant once established, but will grow taller and faster in consistently moist soils. Amelanchier can be grown as a small tree pruned to become a densely branched shrub.

BENEFITS

Fragrant spring flowers
Easy to grow and widely adaptable
Edible berries in summer
Gorgeous fall color

NATIVE INFO

Native Range

Allegheny Serviceberry is found in open woods and moist meadows throughout eastern North America. Distribution Map

Interesting Facts

The sweet, juicy fruits are edible and rich in iron and copper. Native peoples dried the small pomes like raisins or mashed and dried them in cakes. Trees of Ontario by Linda Kershaw

GROWING TIPS

Plant Allegheny Serviceberry in average or moist soil in full sun or partial shade. Adapts to dry conditions but performs best in moist, well-drained soil.

Mature Size: 15-30ft. Wide x 10-15ft. Tall

Hardiness Zone: 4-8

Sun Exposure: Part Shade

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