DOWNY SERVICEBERRY, COMMON SERVICEBERRY Amelanchier arborea
Amelanchier arborea, downy serviceberry or common serviceberry, is native to eastern North America from the Gulf Coast north to Thunder Bay in Ontario and Lake St. John in Quebec, and west to Texas and Minnesota.
It has perfect flowers that are 15–25 mm (5⁄8–1 in) in diameter, with 5 petals, emerging during budbreak in early spring. The petals are white. The flowers are pollinated by bees. The fruit is a reddish-purple pome, resembling a small apple in shape. They ripen in summer and are very popular with birds. The fruit is eaten by over 40 species of birds and various mammals, including squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, mice, voles, foxes, black bears, deer, and elk.
Amelanchier arborea is generally 5–12 m (16–39 ft) tall. Occasionally, it can grow up to 20 metres (66 ft) tall and reach into the overstory. The bark is smooth and gray.
A characteristic useful for identification is that the young leaves emerge downy on the underside. The fall color is variable, from orange-yellow to pinkish or reddish.
This species tolerates varying light levels, but is at its best in full sun.
The edible fruit is drier than some other serviceberries, and it is harvested locally for pies and jams, and has been known to be used for wine; they were also used by Native Americans to make bread.
Some report that the sweetened juice tastes like Dr. Pepper and some nurseries sell them as "The Dr. Pepper Tree", but the fruit is not used in the soft drink.
Location: Sun or part shade
Hardiness zones: 4-9
Seeds per pack: 10
Germination: These seeds require a period of moist cold to help them break dormancy. This is done by giving them a cold 'winter' period (artificial or natural), and then a warming to simulate 'spring', and time to grow! Here's how this can be done:
Obtain a planting container that has holes in the bottom for excess water to drain. Place the seeds on the surface of your growing medium, and water in. Do not bury the seeds, as light may aid germination at the next stage. Place your container in a cold area (but not freezing, perhaps a refrigerator) for 90 days. Once the cold period is completed, place the container at room temperature for them to germinate. Be sure to keep the soil moist during this entire germination period. Seedlings will sprout a few weeks, or occasionally several months, after the warming period.