Colorful Autumn Serviceberry Tree: How To Grow, Care, Plant Serviceberrys

Image of a Serviceberry tree for a guide on how to plant service berry trees, how to identify serviceberries using pictures, as well as serviceberry bonsai, bark, and flowers.

The Serviceberry Tree is a sprawling species, found all over North America, Asia, and Europe.

They belong to the Rosaceae family, the types of trees which host a variety of favorite fruit bearing trees, such as the Almond, Plum, Apple and the Hawthorn Tree.

The various species grow in a wide range of climates and grow from heights as small as 1 foot, to as high as 60.

Known for their delicious berries, white, flowers, and hardiness, this species is desirable for any arborist or gardener looking to bring some color into their yard, all while feeding the wildlife.

This complete guide explains how to grow a Serviceberry tree, how to care for the ones you have, and how to identify them not just by their fruits, but by the gorgeous white flowers and beautiful Autumn foliage they produce.

How To Identify Serviceberry Tree

If you’re wondering how to identify Serviceberry Trees then you’re not alone. This tree has a multitude of names including Serviceberry, Shad, Shadblow, and Juneberry Tree.

If you’re looking for white flowering trees identification, then chances are you’re looking at a Serviceberry Tree.

Serviceberry Tree, Juneberry Tree, Shadbow

(Amelanchier arborea)

Serviceberry Tree flowers in oval frame on green background.
  • Image: Musekaw26
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Genus: Amelanchier
  • Leaf: Green in the spring. Golden yellow, red, and orange in autumn
  • Bark: Smooth gray while young with vertical stripes
  • Seed: Pointed oval seeds with slight curves
  • Blossoms: Drooping white flowers with 5 alternating petals
  • Fruit: Sweet pome fruit, similar to blueberries
  • Native Habitat: Eastern North America
  • Height: Between 15 and 25 feet tall, but can reach 40 feet in the wild
  • Canopy: A mature spread between 15 and twenty feet
  • Type: Deciduous

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


Their white flowers always have 5 petals that are bone white, with a reddish-purple fruit that flowers in around June (hence the name, Juneberry).

The fruit is quite popular with the birds, so there may be some competition for your harvest.

The Serviceberry is a tree with purple berries which resemble a blueberry, but slightly larger and will eventually ripen to a well known dark purple.

Their bark is smooth and gray, with twisting vertical lines,1 and as it ages, it will become rough and develop scales. The bark is considered so beautiful that they’re used as ornamental plantings and pruned down to show off the stripes in a bonsai tree.

Pear Tree blossoms can often be mistaken for Serviceberry Trees, as their flowers are similar in shape and color. Despite being absolutely stunning, the Bradford Pear Tree flowers have become notorious for their funky smell during spring blooms.

Serviceberry Tree Growing Zone

The Serviceberry Tree growing zone ranges between zone 4-9.17 Its native habitat is within the eastern portion of North America, from the Gulf Coast of Mexico, all the way to Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada.

The Serviceberry is one of the few berry trees in Michigan that can survive the harsh winter.

If you plan to find the growing zones for Serviceberry Tree (where to grow them), we should begin by learning about the Hardiness Zone. The planting zone, or Hardiness Zones, are areas of the map that are separated by how harsh your climate is, and average minimum winter temperatures, then further divided into additional subcategories.

The zone map does have some drawbacks. In the eastern portion of the country, the USDA map doesn’t account for the effect of snow cover over perennial plants, the regularity of freeze cycles, and soil drainage, which all have a large effect on the growth of plants.

When you move further west of the 100th meridian, the tree growing zone becomes less useful.

The vast amount of microclimates in the west, the geography, and the high precipitation due to the abundance of mountains makes using the hardiness zone map quite difficult. Within one single zone you can have mountains as high as 11,000 feet, with an ocean only 100 miles away.

Due to this, it’s best to conduct further research than simply rely on the hardiness zone map.

By knowing these categories, you’re best able to determine if a particular plant, such as the Serviceberry Tree, is likely to do well in your area. Hardiness Zone 4 has an average minimum winter temperature of -30 °F to -20 °F, whereas Hardiness Zone 9 ranges from 20 °F to 30 °F.2

To check whether you live in an area with the best growing conditions for Serviceberry Tree then try this link.19

Types of Serviceberry Tree

There are over 20 types of Serviceberry Tree found throughout the world, but all are native to temperate regions, and most diverse across North America.3 This tree has made itself known across the United States, with at least one type of species native to every state in the U.S. except for Hawaii.

While all Serviceberry Trees are deciduous, and all berries are edible, there are still unique qualities regarding some of the species.11

The Amelanchier alnifolia, or the Saskatoon berry, grows from suckering colonies which are clumped tightly. As with all species, the flowers are white with 5 petals, and the berry ripens during the summer.

This Saskatoon fruit is widely desired and is rich in antioxidants.

The Amelanchier humilis, also known as the Low Serviceberry, is a rather hairy member of the genus. Their young leaves are covered in dense, wooly hair.

The small white flowers found on most Serviceberry Trees attract the bees during spring, while its berries attract the birds.

Amelanchier laevis, or the Allegheny Serviceberry, is one of the tallest Serviceberry Trees, growing up to 30 feet high. It’s native to North America, from eastern Canada as far south as Georgia, and is cultivated as an ornamental shrub.

The bark is sometimes used as a herbal medicine for expecting mothers.4

The Amelanchier ovalis, commonly referred to as the Snowy Mespilus,20 is the only species of Serviceberry that is naturally occurring within Europe. It reaches roughly 10 feet in height, and like the humilis, has hairy leaves that tend to bald as they grow.

This species prefers dry, steep slopes with rocky substrates.

Amelanchier x grandiflora, the Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry, is a favorite among cultivars, and has been specifically developed for garden use. This tree is actually a cross of the common Serviceberry, and the Allegheny Serviceberry, and is noted for its stark yellow buds.

Serviceberry Tree Leaves

The Serviceberry Tree leaves are green during spring, but as they are deciduous, their leaves will turn into shades of gold, orange, or red as they prepare to drop.

The shape of the leaf depends on the species, spanning from elliptical to ovate, and all have serrated margins, or edges.5

Serviceberry Tree identification chart showing a full-grown Serviceberry Tree with its average height and Serviceberry Tree leaf, Serviceberry Tree flower, Serviceberry Tree fruit, and Serviceberry Tree bark images in circle frames on a green background.

The Serviceberry is considered to be one of the most beautiful trees during the autumn, and is often planted simply for the color of its leaves.

The branch of the tree splits into the leaf stalks, the base of which grows the berry, or more technically the pome. As fall arrives, and these leaves take on different shades, they create one of the most beautiful appearances which resemble a sunset.

One of the most coveted Serviceberry Trees is the Amelanchier x grandiflora cross, known for its large flowers and brilliant red leaves during autumn. They are considered an extremely hardy hybrid, as the Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry Tree problems are few and far between, compared to some of the more susceptible species.

Serviceberry Tree Flower

The Serviceberry Tree flowers are all white and are one of the first shrubs to bloom in the spring. They flower in clusters, known as inflorescences, having between 4 to 10 flowers.

They also provide food for the bees, as they become a popular pollination target. They are also known as a perfect flower,21 always having 5 petals, bearing both stamens and carpels.

The grouping of flowers can be either upright or drooping and are surrounded by a multitude of stamens. When bees pollinate these flowers, they will take pollen from the male part, and fertilize the female parts of the same tree.

With its dense cluster of fragrant flowers and its multitude of springtime leaves, the Serviceberry Trees make excellent privacy trees.6

The flowers are so widely appreciated that some are actually bred for longer flowering times, resulting in more stunning fall foliage. Many suspect the name, Serviceberry, was derived from their early spring blooms, as this signified the thawing of the muddy trails and a return to church service.

Serviceberry Tree Seeds

Serviceberry Tree seeds are found within the fruits. Though the name contains “berry”, the fruit is actually a type of pome.7

Pomes are a fruit that is produced by flowering plants and consist of a central core where the seeds are found. Other pomes you may be familiar with are apples, pears, and quinces.

Related Reading: How to Grow an Apple Tree From Seed: Guide to All 10 Species Malus Domestica

If you plan on growing Serviceberry Tree from a seed, then it’s best to collect them while the pomes are ripe and fully colored, usually in the early summer. Take the pome and separate the seeds from the flesh, if you don’t want to do this by hand, you could use a dull blender to briefly pulse them apart.

Closeup of Serviceberry Tree showing its leaves and purple berry-like fruits.

(Image: Georg Eiermann22)

Dry them on a newspaper for a few days, and when late fall comes they’re ready to be planted.8

Serviceberry pomes are a major attractant of birds during the early summer. These nutrient dense fruits are eaten by birds, which help spread the seeds and propagate the growth of the Serviceberry.

Birds have even been known to completely devour all the fruit before people get a chance to pick them.

Growing a Serviceberry Tree from a seedling is relatively easy, as they have high germination rates, but be sure to stratify them (pre-treating) if you plan on planting them in the spring, as they need to acclimate to their conditions.

Are Serviceberry Edible?

Yes, the pomes of the Serviceberry Trees are edible. They range in flavor from species to species, sometimes taking on the quality of blueberries, other times a mix of cherry and raspberry.

Bear in mind their capacity to carry cyanide, much like other seeds within the pomes of the Rosaceae family.

Do Serviceberry Trees Have Medicinal Properties?

Though rarely mentioned in modern herbal literature, the Serviceberry has been long used amongst the indigenous populations as a source of medicine. The plant has been used to help upset stomachs and toothaches.

It’s bark has been even been used to tighten the skin and act as an antibacterial wash.

Container Serviceberry Tree: Bonsai Growing

A container Serviceberry Tree would commonly be purchased from a nursery. Though most people don’t consider growing a tree in a container, the Serviceberry can be kept relatively small if pruned properly and is a viable option for a container.

Some planting tips for Serviceberry Tree grown in containers are keeping them in the right zone. Trees grown in containers are more vulnerable to colder conditions than those grown within the ground.9

A simple rule of thumb is to subtract one Hardiness Zone if grown in a container, and another one for every 10 floors above ground.

If you live in an area where winter gets below freezing, you’ll need to purchase a frost resistant container. Avoid porous containers as the repeated freezing and thawing can cause them to crack and harm your roots.

The watering needs for Serviceberry Tree plants are simple enough, keeping the soil moist but not saturated.

One more thing to keep note of, many Serviceberry Trees bought from nurseries will have their rootballs wrapped in synthetic burlap or woven plastic instead of natural burlap. If this is the case, be sure to remove it as it won’t deteriorate like natural burlap, and can hinder the growth or even harm your Serviceberry Tree.

How Much Carbon Does Serviceberry Tree Sequester?

How much carbon does Serviceberry Tree sequester over their lifetime can be an important question when deciding which trees to plant. As trees grow, they accumulate growth in the form of wood, stems, branches, and flowers.10

All this results in the long-term storage of carbon while the tree lives.

As the tree loses biomass through injury, natural decay, or death, the stored carbon is released into the atmosphere.

Closeup of Serviceberry Tree showing its stems with leaves and blooming white flowers.

(Image: Musekaw23)

Determining how much carbon the Serviceberry Tree sequesters has been generally calculated from the predicted growth of the tree, climate data, and specific growth rates. This should get you a volume of tree growth, which we’ll then convert into tonnes of carbon.

These may also be influenced by their location, the climate, or even the soil quality.

The slow growing nature of the Serviceberry, its relatively small biomass of leaves, and its lifespan of 60 years means it’s not the best at sequestering carbon. Keeping that in mind, a Serviceberry Tree still plays an important role in the health of an ecosystem.

If you live within the habitat of the Serviceberry Tree, then choosing a native tree is preferential,16 as they’ve adapted to the region’s soil, and help support the wildlife.

Related Reading: How Much Carbon Does a Tree Capture (24 Species + Calculator)

Serviceberry Tree Disease Prevention

It’s best to familiarize yourself with Serviceberry Tree disease prevention if you plan on growing them. Pests can cause destroy ecosystems if left unchecked, and sometimes it’s our duty to step in where we can.

While the Serviceberry Tree is considered hardy compared to some other plants, that doesn’t mean they won’t catch a disease, or be infected with pests.

Some of the common pests of the Serviceberry Tree include aphids, Bark Beetles, sawflies, and Spider Mites.

Closeup of Serviceberry Tree showing its leaves and fruit stems with fruits and a beetle species eating one of the fruits.

(Image: WikimediaImages24)

One interesting pest is the Pear Sawfly. These extremely tiny insects are known to lay their larvae within the tree.

The larvae, referred to as Pearslugs,18 damage the tree by removing layers of leaf tissue and leaving the veins behind; this is known as skeletonizing.12

If you find yourself infected with Pearslugs, a natural pest control for Serviceberry Tree includes simply plucking the larvae off your tree and disposing of them in some soapy water. If the problem is localized, consider pruning the limbs to prevent spreading.

Also consider companion plants for growing Serviceberry Tree, including mint, fennel, dill, and yarrow. These will naturally attract predatory insects to your garden, such as ladybugs, which will help you tackle an infestation.

Serviceberry Trees are susceptible to a variety of diseases, including rustleaf, fire blight, and powdery mildew. How to stop Serviceberry Tree disease depends on the disease itself.

Though not always warranted, fungicidal sprays, pruning, and even sulfur can be used to combat tree disease. If you’re looking for a hardy breed the Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry Tree problems are few and far between, especially when compared to an ornamental pear, or other similar looking trees.

Serviceberry Tree Growth Rate

The Serviceberry Tree growth rate is moderate to slow, with roughly 12-24” per year once they’re established. How long it takes to grow Serviceberry Tree will depend on a multitude of factors such as climate and soil type.

Their slower than average growth makes them ideal for planting beneath power lines, and other areas at risk for damage. They’re also more tolerant of drier, rockier soils, and even do well in urban areas.

Interestingly enough, researchers conducted an experiment where they would aggressively clip the buds on a variety of species. The Serviceberry was found to be nearly unaffected by this, ignoring the damage and making up for it with new growth in biomass.15

This can be important when considering which trees to plant around livestock.

Serviceberry tree growth chart showing full grown Serviceberry tree on a line graph with Serviceberry tree age on the x-axis and Serviceberry tree height on the y-axis.

The Serviceberry Tree can grow up to 60 feet tall if allowed, though many gardeners will keep them pruned to prevent them from growing past 10 feet. It will take between 5 to 10 years to reach 10 feet, which is ample time to prepare for all the birds and wildlife you’ll be inviting onto your property.

How Far Apart To Plant Serviceberry Tree

When planting your Serviceberry Tree, you should leave it at least 12 to 15 feet apart. If you intend to grow a thicket, then you may group trees closer together.

Keep in mind that Serviceberry Trees fruit best in full sun, and clumping them together may lower their berry production.

Serviceberry Tree Facts

There are many interesting Serviceberry Tree facts, as it’s been a well regarded tree with many applications. It’s one of the fruits native to North America, and has been used in jams, syrups, and even liqueur.

If you’re intending on growing a Serviceberry Tree from a cutting, you can simply take a piece of early spring hardwood, and they’ll propagate through suckers. They’re also one of the hardiest tree species, as the most common infestations and diseases tend to cause cosmetic issues rather than terminal ones.13

All Serviceberry Tree flowers grow with 5 alternating petals, though six petals have been seen. Nearly all species found are white, some have been noted to be pink, red, or yellow.

The name Shadberry, comes from the trees flowering in the early spring which coincides along with the run of the shad fish, a type of herring. As climate change has greatly affected our world the shad aren’t spawning in as many places as they once were and this name has become something of a misnomer.

Crown of Serviceberry Tree showing its branches and stems full of Serviceberry Tree flowers.

(Image: AnRo000225)

The journals of Merriweather Lewis and William Clark during their expedition recount surviving on the berries when other foods were scarce.14 They describe them as tasting delicious.

Something interesting to note is that both the leaves and the berries contain cyanide compounds, and eating too much of them can cause an upset stomach alongside other complications.

Boiling them first should take care of this, and if you plan to eat them raw, don’t overdo it.

An alternative explanation concerning the name “Serviceberry” is that funerals were planned around the same time the tree bloomed. This was because the Serviceberry blooms in the spring, when the ground has thawed enough to begin the digging of graves.

Native Americans were also known to use the Serviceberry Trees’ hardwood in bow shafts and staves.

Frequently Asked Questions About Serviceberry Tree

How Much Sunlight Does Serviceberry Tree Need Each Day?

The Serviceberry Tree needs at least 4 hours of direct sun. They are tolerant of partial shade, meaning they can be planted in yards with larger trees or along the edge of woodlands.

What Is the Best Season When To Plant Serviceberry Tree for the Best Yield?

When trying to achieve the highest yield of your Serviceberry Trees, it’s best to plant in the fall if you’re using a seed, unless you stratify them and prepare them for the change in temperature. If growing from a cutting, then the autumn or early spring will bring you the best yield.


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