The Q&A Archives: What is a 'shadbush'?

Question: Can you tell me anything about this plant?

Answer: Shadbush (also called Downy Serviceberry, Juneberry, Servicetree and Sarvis-tree) is a lovely small tree correctly called Amelanchier arborea. It is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9 and is quite adaptable -- in fact it is native to a wide range from Maine to Iowa and south to Florida and Louisiana, according to Michael Dirr's "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants". It will grow to between 15 and 25 feet tall and generally grows as a multi-stemmed plant. It has lovely delicate-looking branches and gorgeous fall color. It blooms early in white; later on it makes little pomes (it is related to apples) that look more like berries than anything. The orioles love them, and so do many other birds. The fruit is supposed to make delicious jelly or pie but the birds steal them as soon as they are ripe so I've never tasted one!

Since it is related to apples, serviceberry is susceptible to some of the same foliar pests and diseases so you should look for disease resistant cultivars. There are a number of named varieties with a range of ultimate sizes and forms on the market so look for one that's right for your space.

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