By Debra Knapke
What makes a plant desirable? The answer to that question varies with the gardener. Good fall color, beautiful flowers, winter interest, edible – tasty – parts, and wildlife attractor are attributes that come to mind. All of these can be found in our native serviceberries (Amelanchier laevis and A. arborea) and their hybrid “child” (A. x grandiflora).
Just before sitting down to write, I went outside to see if there was a chance of a snack. The birds have eaten most of the berries, and the remaining ones are turning into “raisins”. But I still remember the taste of the delicious cherry-blueberry fruit that covered the tree in late May to early June. As I have sipped my morning tea, I’ve watched robins, cardinals, woodpeckers and bluejays trying to grab some fruit on a fly-by. It’s an entertaining way to start the day.
I’m often asked for plant recommendations. The serviceberry is my number one tree for smaller spaces. In most landscapes, serviceberry grows 15-25’ tall and 10-15’ wide. It is a secondary canopy tree so it grows well in a sun to part sun location. You have a choice of habit: in nature the serviceberry is multi-stemmed, but it is often pruned and trained to a single trunk. Both forms are attractive and have different landscape functions, but I confess – I prefer its natural multi-stemmed beauty.
One of the most popular garden trends is to incorporate food plants into one’s garden. Adding a serviceberry to your yard is an excellent way to start.