April - Downy Serviceberry

Amelanchier arbore


Downy Serviceberry berries

Downy serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea, is a smallish tree — if suckers are removed — that grows to 25 feet in urban landscapes and sometimes taller in a native setting. Its common name is a reference to fine hairs on its leaves and twigs.


An understory species, serviceberry’s profusion of slender-petaled white blooms, reminiscent of apple blossoms, often can be spotted in the wild in open areas or along wooded edges in April. A close-up sniff of the dainty clusters of flowers, which appear before the plant’s leaves, whisper the plant’s membership in the rose family. 


Blooms are followed by delicious blueberry-sized red fruits that turn purple when fully ripe. If you can beat the birds to them, you can enjoy the tasty treats fresh or in baked goods.


Native trees are always a great choice for home landscapes and serviceberry’s smallish size and the fact that it is widely adaptable to a variety of sites makes it especially attractive. Grown in full sun, serviceberries produce more blooms and more fruit. 


Serviceberry’s fall foliage is brilliantly gorgeous in shades of red, gold and orange.

Downy Serviceberry Trees on MU Campus



Story and photos by Jan Wiese-Fales