Western serviceberry is a silver-barked large shrub or multi-stemmed small tree that is beloved equally by gardeners and wildlife. Each spring, it becomes covered with fragrant, white, 1” flowers that supply food for native bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. By summer, the flowers transform into edible reddish berries that eventually turn black when ripe. The berries are delicious, good for jellies, and high in vitamin C, manganese, magnesium and iron - but good luck getting any because they are adored by robins, chickadees, tanagers, and waxwings. Its attractive bluish-green leaves also provide food for many types of butterfly larvae and, in sunnier sites, they will reward you with autumn colors.
- Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous small tree/large shrub
- Size at maturity: 4-12' tall
- Light requirements: full sun to part sun
- Moisture requirements: dry, moist to seasonally wet soil
- Bloom time: April to June
- Growth rate/ease: slow-growing but easy to grow
- Wildlife support: 21 species of local birds, 5 mammals utilize this tree, flowers attract pollinators
- Native habitat/range: Serviceberry is a common and wide-spread species, growing in open meadows, woodlands, streambanks and conifer forests at low to mid elevations from Alaska to California, and across Great Plains into eastern Canada. Portland Plant List - yes.
- Special features & uses: edible, hedgerow, windbreak, thicket, erosion control, medicinal
Gardening with Western Serviceberry: Serviceberry prefers full sun to partial shade, and tolerates a wide range of soils - but not heavy clay. They can be quite drought tolerant once established and do best without a lot of root competition - so space them apart from other plants if possible. They are an excellent addition to a native hedgerow, windbreak, thicket, or erosion control planting in your woodland garden. Consider growing serviceberry with associate plants like Oregon White Oak, Douglas-fir, Oregon grape and birch-leaved spiraea.
On the downside, please be aware that Wester Serviceberry is very susceptible to Cedar Rust, which has become widespread in the region. Cedar rust is transmitted by fungus spores from nearby cedars and junipers and causes bright orange spots on the plant. Avoid planting near cedars or junipers. Remove and dispose of any leaves displaying rust as soon as possible.
Photo Credit 1:Nikkie West, Sparrowhawk Native Plants
Photo Credit 2: "2010.07.04-18.47.25_IMG_8729" by AndreyZharkikh is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit 3: "Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)" by GlacierNPS is marked with CC PDM 1.0