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An individual instance of Amelanchier arborea (common serviceberry)
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Rose Family (Rosaceae).  Native shrubs or small trees to 10 meters tall, with a narrow, rounded crown, the twigs often red-brown to purplish, becoming gray; bark smooth, grayish, "striped" with vertical fissures and very ornamental.  Leaves: deciduous, alternate, simple, oval to oblong, 5-13 cm long, glabrous above, pubescent and paler beneath, the base rounded or heart-shaped, acute or acuminate at the tip, with finely toothed margins.  Flowers: 3-15 in elongate clusters at the branch tips, before the leaves appear; petals 5, white, 10-14 mm long and strap-like.  Fruits 6-12 mm wide, on long stalks, red-purple at maturity; seed 5-10 per fruit.  In some regions, the flowers are gathered for church services, hence serviceberry or sarvis-berry; or service from sarvis, in turn a modification of the older name Sorbus, a closely related genus. 


Trees of downy serviceberry are generally not large enough for sawtimber but they have been used for pulpwood.  The wood is extremely heavy and hard and is occasionally made into tool handles.  Cree Indians prized it for making arrows.  

At least 40 bird species (for example, mockingbirds, cardinals, cedar waxwings, towhees, Baltimore orioles) eat the fruit of Amelanchier species.  Mammals that either eat the fruit or browse the twigs and leaves of downy serviceberry include squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, mice, voles, foxes, black bears, deer, and elk.  The fruits taste similar to blueberry - they are eaten fresh or cooked in pastries or puddings. 

The trees are used as ornamentals and many cultivars have been selected for variation in growth habit, flower size and color, and leaf color.  The fall foliage blends orange and gold with red and green.  It grows in partial shade to full sun, preferring moist but well-drained soil but will also grow in dry sites.


Downy serviceberry is widespread in the eastern US and southeastern Canada (New Brunswick and southern Newfoundland to Quebec and Ontario); south to the northern tip of the Florida Panhandle and west to Alabama, southern Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas (rare), Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota.  


Downy serviceberry grows in a variety of habitats - swampy lowlands, dry woods, sandy bluffs, rocky ridges, forest edges, and open woodlands and fields.  It is a late successional to climax species in mixed-hardwood forests of the central U.S., commonly as an understory species.  In the southern Appalachians, downy serviceberry grows in red spruce-Fraser fir forests at elevations of 1500-2000 meters with yellow birch, mountain ash, elderberry, and hobblebush.  Flowering (March-)April-May, among the first of the early spring trees and shrubs to bloom; fruiting June-August. 


Downy serviceberry regenerates mainly by seed, but it also sprouts from the roots.  Birds and mammals disperse seeds; scarification of the seeds after ingestion by birds is important for germination. 


Nesom, G., & Moore, L. (2006). Plant guide for serviceberry (amelanchier arborea). Retrieved from


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Amelanchier arborea

(Michx. f.) Fernald

sec. Tennessee Flora 2014

common name: common serviceberry
family: Rosaceae
Identified 2016-03-13 by Patrick Phoebus


Military Memorial, Keathley University Building, Rutherford County, Tennessee, US
Click on these geocoordinates to load a map showing the location: 35.8483°, -86.3657°
Coordinate uncertainty about: 10 m.
Altitude: 190 m.

Location calculated as average of its images' coordinates.

Occurrences were recorded for this particular organism on the following dates:

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whole tree (or vine) - general
whole tree (or vine) - winter
whole tree (or vine) - winter
bark - unspecified
leaf - showing orientation on twig
inflorescence - whole - unspecified
fruit - immature

Tennessee Flora 2014 =

Tennessee Flora Committee, 2014. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Tennessee (editors: E. W. Chester, B. E. Wofford, J. Shaw, D. Estes, and D. H. Webb). The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN, US.

Metadata last modified: 2016-05-06T08:15:47.008-05:00
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