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 arguta Nutt.
Amelanchier canadensis oligocarpa (Michx.) Torr. & A.Gray
Amelanchier canadensis pauciflora Farw.
Amelanchier oligocarpa (Michx.) M.Roem.
Amelanchier sanguinea Decne.
Aronia praecox Neumann ex Tausch
Mespilus canadensis oligocarpa Michx.
Pyrus bartramiana Tausch
Amelanchier bartramiana is a deciduous shrub usually growing 30 - 250cm tall, occasionally to 400cm. The plant usually suckers to form a dense clump of up to 50 stems, often forming dense colonies[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
N. America - Ontario to Labrador south to Minnesota and West Virginia
Cool woods, mountain slopes, summits, bogs, poor fens, conifer swamps, acidic soil, sandy lake shores, stream banks, rocky ridges, roadside thickets; at elevations from sea level to 1,500 metres[
Plants are hardy to about -30°c[
Prefers a rich loamy soil in a sunny position or semi-shade[
] but thrives in any soil, including chalk, so long as it 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[
This species hybridises with Amelanchier sanguinea, Amelanchier humilis, Amelanchier intermedia, Amelanchier laevis, Amelanchier spicata, Amelanchier interior, Amelanchier stolonifera, Amelanchier fernaldii, Amelanchier gaspensis and Amelanchier canadensis.
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 contains a few small seeds at the centre, it is sweet but rather dry according to one report[
] whilst others have found it to be sweet and juicy[
]. The fruit can be added to pancakes or dried for later use[
]. Fruits are oval or pear shaped unlike other members of this genus that have round fruits[
]. The dark purple, pear-shaped fruits are 10 - 15mm in diameter[
]. The fruit is rich in iron and copper[
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.