A precocious tree, the serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) is one of the first trees to bloom in the spring. Its creamy white or pale pink star-shaped flowers bloom in loose clusters toward the tips of the branches soon after the ground has thawed in March and April.
Songbirds and mammals, including black bears, eat the serviceberry’s fruit, which are small and round and red, purple and black in color. The tree fruits in early summer until August.
The ovate leaves have small, sharply pointed teeth and fine, soft hairs on the surface when young. Serviceberries are native to woodlands in the United States from the Great Plains eastward to the coast and north into Canada.
Facts about the serviceberry:
- The fruit of the serviceberry tastes like a blueberry and is eaten fresh or used in pastries and desserts.
- In some regions, the flowers are gathered for religious services, thus giving this tree its common name.
- George Washington enjoyed the serviceberry and planted several specimens at his Mount Vernon estate.
Keep your eyes out for the serviceberries’ beautiful blooms this spring and when the berries begin to show, harvest them and make a pie!