Serviceberry in bloom
The serviceberry deserves a starting lineup position, because it hits a home run for looks and eats. This is a genus of shrubs and small trees that have beautiful spring blossoms, late spring fruit, and brilliant fall foliage to boot. What’s not to love?
The serviceberry goes by many other common names, including shadblow, Saskatoon, sarvisberry, juneberry, and sugarplum. Unfortunately this tree isn’t what the sugarplum fairies dance about. Part of the rose family (Rosaceae), it is a close relative of the apple.
Most species are native to the US and Canada – most commonly the Saskatoon Serviceberry (A. alnifolia), Common Serviceberry (A. arborea), and Canadian Serviceberry (A. canadensis).
Serviceberries bloom in early spring with small white snowflake flowers, one of the earliest flowers of the season. The serviceberry fruits generally ripen in the first few weeks of June in zones 5-7, as they turn from green, to crimson purple, then to deep blue-violet once ripe. Fall brings more interest with the leaves turning a brilliant red-orange or yellow.
The birds know a good fruit, and you’ll have to beat them to these first fruits of the year.
The flavor is very interesting, somewhat like a blueberry with a nutty accent from the seeds.