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 arborea cordifolia (Ashe) B.Boivin
Amelanchier arborea laevis (Wiegand) S.M.McKay ex P.Landry
Amelanchier botryapium G.B.Emers.
Amelanchier canadensis Torr. & A.Gray
Pyrus botryapium Bigelow
Common Name: Allegheny Shadberry
Amelanchier laevis is a deciduous shrub or a tree with a spreading crown; it can grow from 2 - 25 metres tall. The plant often suckers, producing up to 20 stems and sometimes forming colonies[
The plant is commonly harvested from the wild for its edible fruit. A very 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 Newfoundland, south to Iowa, Alabama and Georgia
Dry to moist thickets, woodland edges and edges of swamps in cool ravines and on hillsides[
]. Dry to moist, deciduous, mixed, and coniferous forests, fields, thickets, roadsides; at elevations from sea level to 2,000 metres[
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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. Found in the wild on light acidic 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, this species is worthy of especial attention because of the quality of its fruit. 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[
Trees come into bearing in about 12 years from seed[
This species hybridizes with Amelanchier sanguinea, Amelanchier huronensis, Amelanchier wiegandii, Amelanchier spicata, Amelanchier canadensis, Amelanchier arborea, Amelanchier humilis, Amelanchier interior and Amelanchier bartramiana[
Grafting onto seedlings of Amelanchier lamarckii or Sorbus aucuparia is sometimes practised in order to avoid the potential problem of hybridizing[
Hybrid swarms between Amelanchier laevis and both Amelanchier arborea and Amelanchier canadensis in New Jersey have been recorded[
The hybrid with Amelanchier bartramiana can usually be found when these two species grow together[
The hybrid with Amelanchier arborea, known as Amelanchier × grandiflora Rehder, is used ornamentally[
Amelanchier laevis has been documented to be self-compatible and to produce seeds asexually[
Edible fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Succulent and sweet[
]. This is one of the nicest fruits in the genus, it can be eaten and enjoyed in quantity[
]. The fruit can also be dried for winter use[
]. The dark purple fruit is up to 18mm in diameter[
]. The fruit is rich in iron and copper[
An infusion of the bark was used by expectant mothers[
Wood - heavy, exceedingly hard, strong, close grained. Used for tool handles etc[
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.