Description & Overview

Allegheny Serviceberry is a native understory tree naturally found in and along the parameter of open woods from the Appalachians in Georgia to New England and west to Minnesota. Plentiful white flowers in the spring mature to edible blue berries in summer, followed by beautiful fall colors. Some say this species of serviceberry has the sweetest, juiciest berries of them all. Its smooth grey bark and natural growth pattern as a multi-stem add yet another layer of interest.

You may also know this plant as Juneberry or Smooth Serviceberry.

Core Characteristics

Category: Tree

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 4

Mature Height: 25 feet

Mature Spread: 15 feet

Growth Rate: Slow

Growth Form: Tree, Single or Multiple Stem. Narrow, upright, oval.

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Moist, loamy, well-drained. Tolerant of many other soil types. Not drought tolerant.

Flower: White, Showy

Bloom Period: May

Foliage: Dark Green.

Fall Color: Orange-Red

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Purple berry

Suggested Uses

As a Wisconsin native with ornamental value Allegheny Serviceberry is a tree of many talents.

Naturalization/Restoration: This native is found in open woods and in the margins of woodland areas with full sun to part shade and areas with moist, rich soil. It provides many benefits for wildlife and would add diversity while plantings of other species could be relied on to reproduce and colonize.

Street Tree: Ornamental value, tolerance to salt, and upright shape make this tree an excellent choice along roads and medians. A short-lived, slow-grower, Allegheny Serviceberry rarely gets above 25-30 feet tall, making it a good choice for a tree under power lines.

Ornamental flowering tree/ Specimen: Profuse, white spring flowers, blue berries, fall color, and a multi-stem trunk provide multi-season interest making Allegheny Serviceberry a nice choice as a specimen, especially for those with less space in their yard. Consider planting it by a patio where spring flowers and dappled sun in the summer could be fully appreciated.

Bird garden: Many songbirds feast readily on the berries, which are delicious and nutritious. Allegheny Serviceberry would be a great choice for a bird garden. The only downside is that the birds will likely get to the berries before you do!

Native Food Garden: Many are choosing to landscape their yards with edible plants. Berries are sweet and juicy and can be eaten fresh, or made into pies, jams, and jellies. A worthy addition to any edible landscape.

Allegheny Serviceberry is a native understory tree naturally found in and along the parameter of open woods from the Appalachians in Georgia to New En…

Wildlife Value

Many parts of Allegheny Serviceberry are useful to wildlife. The flowers bloom early in the spring, providing one of the first food resources to insects that are just starting to come out of a long winter. The subsequent berries, high in vitamins, sugars and anti-oxidants, attract all manner of wildlife. Stems, buds, and leaves are browsed by many.

Insects: The flowers are pollinated by bees and, to some extent, by butterflies as well. The Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly, Viceroy, and Admiral Butterfly use many serviceberry species as a host plant. Mining bees, including Red-tailed, Imitaitors, Smooth-faced, Wrinkled, and Signund’s miner bees, frequent Allegheny Serviceberry often.

Birds: American Robin, Baltimore Oriole, Grey Catbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Cedar Waxwings, Hermit Thrush, Mourning Dove, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Towhee, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Northern Cardinal, Northern Flicker, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow Warbler, Wood Thrush, and Brown Thrasher all feed on serviceberries enough that they make up at least some percentage of their diet. Hummingbirds feed on the flowers as well as on the insects that are pollinating them. Ruffed Grouse and Wild Turkey browse the buds and twigs, when branches are low enough.

Mammals: Although not their first choice, deer, moose, rabbits, squirrels, and even bears browse the leaves, buds, and twigs. Squirrels, chipmunk, rodents and bears feed on the berries.

Somewhat deer and rabbit resistant.

Maintenance Tips

Allegheny Serviceberry is easy to grow. If a single-stem tree is desired then it will need to be pruned for it to be so. Otherwise, no pruning is necessary.

The bark is thin. Be careful not to damage it when mowing.

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes
Deer Resistant: Yes
Rabbit Resistant: Yes

Does not often exhibit any serious issues; however,

Rust, blight, leaf spot, powdery mildew, and canker are occasional issues but are usually only cosmetic and not detrimental.

Leaf miners, aphids, and spider mites may damage leaves but this rarely becomes a serious issue.

Borers can attack stressed trees. Prevent stress by providing water during dry spells, fertilizing in the spring, and being careful not to cause any wounds, which are more often inflicted with a mower.

Wet weather may rot the fruit. The birds often eat them well before it could become an issue.

Leaf Lore

Name: In southern states the flowers bloom in April and the berries ripen in June, hence the common name Juneberry. The species name laevis means “hairless” or “smooth” in reference to the smooth ovaries and leaves which set it apart from Downy Serviceberry. Allegheny Serviceberry is also called Smooth Serviceberry for this reason. It is sometimes called Allegheny Shadblow in reference to the maturation of the berries occurring in tandem with the running of the Atlantic Shad. Though Shadblow is more commonly used to describe A. Canadensis. The term “serviceberry” refers to the flowers being used in church services back in the day.

Many serviceberries are confused at nurseries and sold under the wrong name, often sold as A. canadensis. A. laevis is set apart from the others by the bronze-purple tint in the spring, as well as by the lack of downiness on the underside of the leaves and ovaries. In general, Allegheny Serviceberry grows larger than other species. Its cultivars produce the most upright, typical tree shapes. Cultivars: Cumulus, Lustre Allegheny, and Spring Flurry are usually available at Johnson’s Nursery, as well as the popular cultivar ‘Autumn Brilliance’ which is a cross between A. laevis and A. arborea (Downy Serviceberry.)

The Spring Flurry Allegheny Serviceberry cultivar could be used as native substitute for the invasive Callery Pear, due to a similar profusion of white flowers.

Native Americans added serviceberries to Pemmican mixes along with meat and fat. This was a calorie-rich food often prepared for long journeys as a reliable food on the go, especially in the winter months.

While not common, Alleghany Serviceberry can sometimes grow to 40 feet tall!

Allegheny Serviceberry has the sweetest, juiciest berry of all serviceberry species. This factoid is quoted in many sources.

Very hard wood used for tool handles.

Companion Plants

Other woodland species found in the same habitat and that also enjoy cool, moist soil include Common Witchhazel, Arrowwood Viburnum, White Fringetree, Common Sweetshrub, Pagoda Dogwood, Solomon’s Seal, Ostrich Fern, Lady Fern, and Virgin’s Bower.

Allegheny Serviceberry is a native understory tree naturally found in and along the parameter of open woods from the Appalachians in Georgia to New En…
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Written by Julia Feltes