Description & Overview

Apple Serviceberry is a naturally occurring hybrid between the Wisconsin native trees Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) and Allegheny Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis). Multi-stemmed, Apple Serviceberry has a rounded habit and grows 25-30 feet tall and wide. In early to mid-spring, pink buds open to pure white flowers in slender racemes before leaves emerge. Young leaves have a purplish cast and are slightly pubescent. Flowers give rise to pink to red berries that mature to a deep blue color in June. Fall brings about brilliant shades of yellow to red before winter displays its beautiful smooth, gray bark.

Core Characteristics

Category: Tree

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 4

Mature Height: 25-30 feet

Mature Spread: 25-30 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Upright, rounded

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Average to moist, well-drained soils

Flower: Pink buds, white flower, slender raceme 4" long

Bloom Period: April – May

Foliage: Medium green

Fall Color: Yellow to red

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Pink to red ripens to blue

Suggested Uses

Apple Serviceberry is native to Wisconsin, scattered throughout the state in average to moist soils, such as woodlands, limestone glades, and moist thickets. In landscape situations, it prefers well-draining, average to moist soils. This Serviceberry tolerates shade but flowers more prolifically in the sun.

This plant does well in an understory planting, thriving in the dappled shade of other, taller plants. It is perfect for restoration plantings that will take the place of invasive Buckthorn, Callery Pear, and Honeysuckle. They are also great along forest or woodland edges.

Apple Serviceberry can be used as a small-scale specimen tree, focal point, or to anchor the corner of a building. Tolerant of air pollution it’s a great option for urban settings. Boasting four seasons of interest with showy white flowers in spring, colorful berries in summer, radiant shades of yellow, orange, and red in fall, and smooth gray bark and fine branching, Apple Serviceberry is a standout. Plant in front of a window and watch this kaleidoscope of change happen throughout the year and enjoy the show!

Drawn to the tasty berries, add Apple Serviceberry to your wildlife garden to attract birds.

Apple Serviceberry is a naturally occurring hybrid between the Wisconsin native trees Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) and Allegheny Servicebe…

Wildlife Value

Serviceberry is a solid choice to attract birds. At least 40 species of birds eat the fruit of serviceberries, including Cedar Waxwings, Ruffed Grouse, Robins, Thrushes, Towhees, Baltimore Orioles, and Cardinals. The fine branching habit provides excellent nesting sites for Cardinals and Robins.

Serviceberries are the host plant for many species including the Small-eyed Sphinx moth (Paonias myops), Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis), Serviceberry Leafroller moth (Olethreutes appendiceum), Striped Hairstreak (Satyrium liparops), White-spotted Hedya (Hedya chionosema), Bluish Spring Moth (Lomographa semiclarata), Hag moth (Phobetron pithecium), Bluish Spring moth (Lomographa semiclarata), Common Lytrosis moth (Lytrosis unitaria), Pale Beauty (Campaea perlata), Blinded Sphinx (Paonias excaecata), Small-eyed Sphinx (Paonias myops), and White-dotted Prominent (Nadata gibbosa).

Mammals also enjoy the fruit including chipmunks, squirrels, deer mice, deer, and bears. Note that deer will nibble on the berries, but also on the twigs, leaves, and buds.

Nectar and pollen are retrieved by Honeybees, Andrenid bees (Andrena spp.), Halictid bees (Lassioglossum, Halictus spp.), Syrphid flies, Tachinid flies, and Buprestid beetles (Acmaeodera spp.)

Other insects that feed on plant sap, wood, foliage, etc., include weevils, long-horned beetles, gall fly larvae, aphids, armored scales, sawfly larvae, and Unspotted Tentiform Leafminer Moth (Parornix geminatella).

Maintenance Tips

Remove any suckers to help focus growth upwards.

A decent mulch ring will help retain soil moisture, reducing stress on the tree.

Apple Serviceberry is a naturally occurring hybrid between the Wisconsin native trees Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) and Allegheny Servicebe…

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: No
Deer Resistant: No
Rabbit Resistant: No

Fire blight may be of concern in cooler, wetter springs.

Leaf spots, leaf blight, powdery mildew, Cedar apple rust, fruit rot, leaf miners, borers, and Pear Blister Mites are potential pests. Cedar apple rust is a fungus that requires another host to complete its life cycle. Its primary host is always a Juniper, while the secondary host can be a Serviceberry, Hawthorn, Apple, or Crabapple tree. The pathogen overwinters as a gall on junipers and reinfects nearby serviceberries the following spring. In fall, round, woody galls can be found on twigs and small branches of Junipers. In the wet spring weather, these galls produce orange, gummy, tentacle-like projections, which look incredibly bizarre. When dry, the gummy orange structures shrivel up to a dry, reddish-brown. Galls can dry and rehydrate several times in one spring.

On Serviceberries, infection looks like yellow, orange, or red leaf spots with raised black dots in the center of the spots. White finger-like fungal tubes stick out from the underside of the leaf spots. Most references to rust management recommend avoiding the planting of Junipers near hosts within one to three miles. This is sensible to a point-if the fungus needs two plants to grow on, take out the common denominator of Juniper. That said, unless you live on a huge lot (think 500+ acres) AND you’re planting apple/hawthorn/pear in the center of that lot AND you’re positive that there are no Junipers nearby, rust will likely occur at some point. Thankfully, the damage on both host plants is usually minor. Should you plant a Juniper right next to your susceptible plant? Probably not. If you’re planting them on opposite sides of the house or one in the backyard and one by the driveway, you’re likely not going to have an issue.

Leaf Lore

The genus name Amelanchier comes from a French provincial name for Amelanchier ovalis a European plant. The specific epithet grandiflora means “large flowers.”

The common name ‘”shadblow” is named as the trees were blooming when the shad fish were running.

Serviceberry is also called “sarvis berry” from its resemblance to the service; “a forgotten English fruit rather like a pear which was eaten overripe like a medlar.” However, there is some dispute to this as many sources also proclaim that Serviceberry is a name that evolved from Sorbusberry, with berries like a Sorbus (Mountain Ash).

Serviceberries have a sugar content of 20% making them sweeter than raspberries and blueberries.

Indigenous people have long used Serviceberries as medicinal treatments and food. The Cherokee took a compound infusion for diarrhea and worms and the fruits given to mothers after childbirth for pain. The berries were eaten raw or dried for winter use.

The wood of serviceberry is hard and heavy and has been used to make tool handles and fishing rods.

Companion Plants

Want to add more birds to that backyard bird list? Combine Serviceberry with Glossy Black Chokeberry, Staghorn Sumac, American Black Currant, Pale Purple Coneflower, Compassplant, Little Bluestem, Showy Blazing Star, Northern Bayberry, Ironwood, Eastern Red Cedar, Canadian Yew, Prickly Ash, Bur Oak, or Blackhaw Viburnum.

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Written by Beth DeLain