Amelanchier / Serviceberry
Amelanchier © John Pickering
Amelanchier arborea, shadbush © Sheryl Pollock
Amelanchier arborea © Steven J. Baskauf
Amelanchier © John Pickering
Common Name: Serviceberry
Amelanchier (serviceberry, shadbush) species are excellent spring pollinator plants, attracting many native bees and butterflies. Numerous cultivars are available in nurseries for home garden use. The fruit of serviceberry varieties can be eaten fresh, made into jams and jellies, baked into pies or can be dried like raisins and currants.
Nationwide, the United States and Canada
Many serviceberry varieties are commercially available and are grown both for ornamental use and fruit production. Serviceberry species are adapted to many climates, moisture and soil conditions across North America.
Full sun to partial shade
Average, but can tolerate dry to moist conditions
Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon serviceberry) is the most common serviceberry found in western North America. Its native range extends throughout Canada and from the west coast of the U.S. throughout the mountain and central states, as far south as Colorado and extending as far east as Minnesota. It produces lovely, white blossoms in spring that attract many native bees. Growing 8 to 15 feet, this plant is adaptable to a variety of soils and moisture conditions. Widely available, Saskatoon serviceberry is used for commercial fruit production, bearing 1/2 inch blue-purple berries in early summer. In addition to a host of native bees, Saskatoon serviceberry is a larval host plant for orange tip and elfin butterflies.
Amelanchier arborea (common serviceberry, shadbush, downy serviceberry) is native to the eastern portion of the United States and Canada. Reaching 15 to 25 feet, it grows naturally in a variety of habitats, including swampy lowlands, dry woods, sandy bluffs, rocky ridges, forest edges, and open woodlands and fields. Shadbush is one of the earliest trees to flower in the eastern United States, producing white blossoms as early as late March and flowering until May. Many species of spring bees, particularly Andrena (mining bees), are frequent visitors to shadbush. It produces fruit between June and August, attracting close to 40 species of birds. Common serviceberry or shadbush is commercially available in nurseries.
Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry) is a shrubby east coast variety of serviceberry. It is a multi-trunked tall shrub, growing approximately 6 to 20 feet, and producing abundant white blossoms in spring. The flowers are followed by the production of a small, crimson-colored, edible, apple-like fruit in summer. As with other varieties of serviceberry, Canadian serviceberry attracts a variety of native bees in spring. It is routinely available in east coast nurseries.
Numerous hybrid cultivars of serviceberry are also widely available in nurseries throughout North America, all of which are good pollinator plants.
In addition to the bee visitors cited on this profile, there are likely numerous additional bee genera attracted to serviceberry species; however official records for visitations by other spring bees, such as bumble bees and mason bees, are currently not available in the literature.