No consensus exists regarding the enumeration of North American Amelanchier taxa. In eastern North America, most floras and regional treatments have roughly the corresponding number (although sometimes not the same species) as G. N. Jones (1946); though often substantial differences of opinion exist regarding circumscriptions of individual taxa. Disagreement is deeper for western North America, for which Jones had seven species and P. Landry (1975) had but one.
Identification of individual taxa can be difficult because of the variability within each species. In addition, some species have not diverged much from one another genetically.
In general, we are following the treatment in the Flora of North America[
Amelanchier alabamensis Britton
Amelanchier austromontana Ashe
Amelanchier botryapium Spach
Amelanchier canadensis Darl.
Amelanchier intermedia Blanch.
Amelanchier ovalis subcordata DC.
Amelanchier wangenheimiana (Tausch) M.Roem.
Amelancus canadensis Medik. ex Vollm.
Aronia arborea Barton
Aronia botryapium Elliott
Aronia cordata Raf.
Aronia nivea Neumann ex Tausch
Aronia subcordata Raf. ex DC.
Malus microcarpa Raf.
Mespilus amelanchier nivea (Marshall) Castigl.
Mespilus arborea F.Michx.
Mespilus canadensis Walter
Mespilus nivea Marshall
Pyrus botryapium Wangenh.
Pyrus wangenheimiana Tausch
Common Name: Downy Serviceberry
Amelanchier arborea is a deciduous shrub or a tree that can grow from 2 - 20 metres tall. The plant often suckers, producing up to 20 stems and often growing in colonies[
]. When growing as a single-stemmed tree, the bole can be up to 40cm in diameter[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, and sometimes also as a medicine and source of materials. An ornamental plant, it is grown in gardens for its floral display, the autumn colour of its leaves, and for its edible fruits, which attract birds to the garden[
Eastern N. America - Ontario to Nova Scotia, south to Texas and Florida
Rich woods, thickets and slopes[
]. Dry to moist woods, mesic mixed hardwoods and pine-hardwoods, fields, thickets, roadsides, circumneutral soil, especially northward; at elevations up to 1,500 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Prefers a rich loamy soil in a sunny position or semi-shade[
] but thrives in any soil that is not too dry or water-logged[
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils.
All members of this genus have edible fruits and, whilst this is dry and uninteresting in some species, in many others it is sweet and juicy. Many of the species have potential for use in the garden as edible ornamentals. The main draw-back to this genus is that birds adore the fruit and will often completely strip a tree before it is fully ripe[
The plant becomes dwarfed when growing in sterile (poor and acid) ground[
Hybridises with Amelanchier bartramiana, Amelanchier canadensis, Amelanchier humilis and Amelanchier laevis[
Putative hybrids with Amelanchier amabilis have been collected in New York, whilst putative hybrids between Amelanchier arborea and other eastern North American species of Amelanchier have been observed. Hybrid swarms in New Jersey between this species and Amelanchier laevis but not Amelanchier canadensis have been reported[
Grafting onto seedlings of Amelanchier lamarckii or Sorbus aucuparia is sometimes practised in order to avoid the potential problem of hybridizing[
Edible fruit - raw or cooked[
]. The fruit has a few small seeds at the centre, some forms are dry and tasteless[
] whilst others are sweet and juicy[
]. The fruit ripens unevenly over a period of 2 - 3 weeks and is very attractive to birds, this makes harvesting them in quantity rather difficult[
]. The maroon-purple fruit is borne in small clusters and is up to 10mm in diameter[
]. It is rich in iron and copper[
A compound infusion of the plant has been used as an anthelmintic, in the treatment of diarrhoea and as a spring tonic[
An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of gonorrhoea[
The trees have an extensive root system and can be planted on banks etc for erosion control[
Wood - close-grained, hard, strong, tough and elastic. It is one of the heaviest woods in N. America, weighing 49lb per cubic foot[
]. Too small for commercial interest, it is sometimes used for making handles[
The following is a general description of the wood obtained from members of this genus:-
The heartwood is brown or reddish brown, it is usually absent from small specimens; the thick band of sapwood is slightly brownish. The texture is fine and uniform; the grain straight to irregular; lustre is medium; odour and taste are absent or not distinctive. The wood is hard, heavy, compact, tough, and strong, where formed the dark heartwood is durable. The appearance of the wood is usually marred by numerous brown lines (pith flecks). The wood is easily worked, taking a good polish. When of sufficient sice the wood is used locally for purposes such as tool handles and other small items - it is of no commercial interest, however, because of its scarcity and the small size of the plants[
Seed - it is best harvested 'green', when the seed is fully formed but before the seed coat has hardened, and then sown immediately in pots outdoors or in a cold frame. If stored seed is obtained early enough in the autumn, it can be given 4 weeks warm stratification before being left out in the winter and it should then germinate in the spring. Otherwise seed can be very slow to germinate, perhaps taking 18 months or more. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a sheltered outdoor position, planting them out once they are 20cm or more tall.
If there is sufficient seed it is best to sow it thinly in an outdoor seedbed[
]. Grow the seedlings on for two years in the seedbed before planting them out into their permanent positions during the winter.
Layering in spring - takes 18 months[
Division of suckers in late winter. The suckers need to have been growing for 2 years before you dig them up, otherwise they will not have formed roots. They can be planted out straight into their permanent positions if required.