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. The common name: 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.
Variation within the species: Three varieties have been recognized: var. alabamensis (Britt.) G.N. Jones; var. arborea; and var. austromontana (Ashe) Ahles.
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Occurrence in North America
KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO NE
NH NJ NY NC OH OK PA RI SC TN
VT VA WV WI NB NF NS ON PE PQ
the northern tip of the Florida Panhandle and west to southern Ontario
and Quebec, eastern Kansas, the eastern edge of Nebraska, and southern
Mississippi and Alabama. North of Virginia, it is found along the
coast, but from Virginia south it occurs inland .
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 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 is a tall, deciduous shrub or small tree, growing up
to 30 feet (9 m) or more . Its trunk is about 16 inches (40 cm) in
diameter . The maximum recorded height and diameter for downy
serviceberry is 70 feet (21 m) high and 2 feet (0.6 m) d.b.h. . Its
branches are purplish when young but turn grey at maturity. Leaves are
alternate and simple with serrate margins. They are almost twice as
long as broad. Flowers are white, and the berrylike pomme fruit is dark
red to purple . There are 4 to 10 seeds per fruit .
Range and Habitat in Illinois
dry woods and sandy bluffs. It also grows on rocky ridges, forest
edges, and open woodlands and fields [20,23]. In the mixed hardwoods of
Appalachia, downy serviceberry may compete better with other species in
stands on low quality sites .
Downy serviceberry grows in red spruce (Picea rubens)-Fraser fir (Abies
fraseri) forests of the mountainous Southeast. Here it grows in
association with yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), mountain ash
(Sorbus americana), elderberry (Sambucus pubens), and hobblebush
(Viburnum alnifolium) at elevations between 4,950 and 6,600 feet
(1,500-2,000 m). Soils in these types are moderately drained
Inceptisols with a thick organic horizon and a low pH .
In the Midwest downy serviceberry grows with boxelder (Acer negundo),
sugar maple (A. saccharum), white oak (Quercus alba), black ash
(Fraxinus nigra), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), shagbark hickory
(Carya ovata), and American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana). Soils here
are well-drained silty clay loam and poorly drained silt loams .
Some understory associates include lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium
angustifolium), penstemon (Penstemon canescens), raspberry (Rubus spp.),
greenbrier (Smilax spp.), and witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) [7,8].
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
1 Jack pine
25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
26 Sugar maple - basswood
27 Sugar maple
28 Black cherry - maple
30 Red spruce - yellow birch
31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech
34 Red spruce - Fraser fir
39 Black ash - American elm - red maple
42 Bur oak
52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
59 Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak
60 Beech - sugar maple
61 River birch - sycamore
62 Silver maple - American elm
64 Sassafras - persimmon
65 pin oak - sweet gum
75 Shortleaf pine
76 Shortleaf pine - oak
97 Atlantic white-cedar
108 Red maple
110 Black oak
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K099 Maple - basswood forest
K100 Oak - hickory
K101 Elm - ash forest
K102 Beech - maple forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K109 Transition between K104 and K106
K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine
K112 Southern mixed forest
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
FRES19 Aspen - birch
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. Seeds can be sown after 2-6 months of cold stratification, but they will not usually germinate until after the second spring.
Flower-Visiting Insects of Downy Serviceberry in Illinois
(Bees usually suck nectar, but sometimes also collect pollen; beetle activity is unspecified; other insects suck nectar; observations are from Robertson, MacRae, and Steury et al.)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp fq (Rb); Apidae (Bombini): Bombus bimaculatus sn (Rb), Bombus pensylvanica sn (Rb); Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn (Rb); Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada denticulata sn (Rb), Nomada illinoiensis sn (Rb); Megachilidae (Osmiini): Osmia taurus (SDO)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn (Rb), Augochloropsis sumptuosa sn (Rb), Halictus confusus sn cp (Rb), Halictus rubicunda sn (Rb), Lasioglossum cinctipes sn cp fq (Rb), Lasioglossum cressonii sn (Rb), Lasioglossum foxii sn (Rb), Lasioglossum imitatus sn (Rb), Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn cp fq (Rb), Lasioglossum versatus sn cp fq (Rb), Lasioglossum zephyrus sn fq (Rb); Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes inaequalis sn fq (Rb); Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena andrenoides andrenoides sn fq (Rb), Andrena bisalicis sn fq (Rb), Andrena carlini sn (Rb), Andrena cressonii sn cp fq (Rb), Andrena erythrogaster sn fq (Rb), Andrena erythronii sn (Rb), Andrena forbesii sn fq (Rb), Andrena hippotes sn (Rb), Andrena imitatrix imitatrix sn fq (Rb), Andrena mandibularis sn (Rb), Andrena mariae sn (Rb), Andrena miserabilis bipunctata sn fq (Rb), Andrena rugosa sn (Rb), Andrena salictaria sn fq (Rb), Andrena sayi sn fq (Rb)
Tenthredinidae: Dolerus unicolor (Rb)
Syrphidae: Brachypalpus oarus (Rb), Eristalinus aeneus (Rb), Eristalis dimidiatus fq (Rb), Eristalis transversus (Rb), Eupeodes americanus fq (Rb), Helophilus fasciatus (Rb), Platycheirus quadratus (Rb), Sphaerophoria contiqua (Rb), Toxomerus geminatus (Rb), Toxomerus marginatus (Rb); Bombyliidae: Bombylius major (Rb); Tachinidae: Chetogena claripennis (Rb), Gonia capitata (Rb); Calliphoridae: Cynomya cadaverina fq (Rb); Muscidae: Neomyia cornicina (Rb); Anthomyiidae: Leucophora unistriata (Rb); Scathophagidae: Scathophaga furcata fq (Rb)
Buprestidae: Acmaeodera neglecta (McR), Acmaeodera ornata (McR)
Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire
Following wildfire in a spruce-fir forest of Appalachia, downy
serviceberry was present in stands after 30 years, but was less than 1
percent of the total basal area. Specific effects of the fire on downy
serviceberry were not studied . For fire information on
a related species, see Amelanchier alnifolia.
The following Research Project Summaries
provide information on prescribed
fire use and postfire response of plant
community species, including downy
serviceberry, that was not available when this
species review was originally
Immediate Effect of Fire
off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2
. Some reestablishment from seed dispersed from off-site may also
More info for the term: climax
Downy serviceberry is a late successional to climax species in
mixed-hardwood forests of the central United States .
Downy serviceberry regenerates mainly by seed, but it also sprouts from
the root crown . Seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals; bird
ingestion of seeds is an important scarification process . Seeds
should be collected soon after ripening before animals eat them. Seeds
can be washed from the fruits by mashing them with water. There is an
average of 80,000 cleaned seeds per pound (176,000 kg). Seeds should be
dry stored at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 deg C) in sealed containers.
Seeds can be sown in either fall or spring after 2 to 6 months of cold
stratification, but they will not usually germinate until after the
second spring .
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
More info for the terms: hemicryptophyte, phanerophyte
Broad-scale Impacts of Fire
most of the downy serviceberry on the site . Stumps and roots
sprouted the following year, but much of downy serviceberry found on the
site was established from seed dispersed by birds and mammals. Studies
in Pennsylvania showed contradictory results in the closely related
species, Amelanchier canadensis . A. canadensis was not present on
burned sites until more than 15 years following fire but was prolific on
Life History and Behavior
In the northern part of its range, downy serviceberry flowers at the
same time its leaves emerge in April and May. Fruits are produced in
June and July . In southern parts of its range, downy serviceberry
flowers in March and produces fruit from June through August [1,4].
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Amelanchier arborea
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state status and wetland indicator values.
Downy serviceberry is the preferred food of the gypsy moth (Lymantria
dispar) during its larval stages . Downy serviceberry has been known
to increase in number and density after defoliation from gypsy moths
Mistblown Roundup applied in late summer or early fall kills downy
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
Natural, fertile hybrids occur between downy serviceberry and A. bartramiana, A. canadensis, A. humilis, and A. laevis. Some cultivars are selections from A. X grandiflora, the hybrid of A. arborea and A. laevis. Many individuals within Amelanchier arise through hybridization and species boundaries are often not clear.
Fire top-kills downy serviceberry, but it can sprout from root crowns and stumps following fire. A significant portion of the post-fir reestablishment is from seed dispersed from off-site by birds and mammals. Following wildfire in a spruce-fir forest of Appalachia, downy serviceberry was present in stands after 30 years but was less than 1% of the total basal area. Gypsy moth larvae (Lymantria dispar) feed selectively on downy serviceberry.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
of the Amelanchier genus. Mammals that use downy serviceberry include
squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, foxes, black bears, and elk [12,17].
Wood Products Value
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.
Amelanchier arborea (downy serviceberry or common serviceberry), is native to eastern North America from the Gulf Coast north to Thunder Bay in Ontario and Lake St. John in Quebec, and west to Texas and Minnesota.
Amelanchier arborea is generally 5–12 metres (16–39 ft) tall. Occasionally, it can grow up to 20 metres (66 ft) tall and reach into the overstory. The trunk can be up to 15 cm diameter (rarely to 40 centimetres (16 in) diameter). The bark is smooth and gray.
The buds are slender with a pointed tip, and usually more than two scales visible. The leaves are ovate or elliptical, 4–8 centimetres (1.6–3.1 in) (rarely 10 centimetres (3.9 in)) long and 2.5–4 centimetres (0.98–1.57 in) wide, with pointed tips and finely serrated margins. A characteristic useful for identification is that the young leaves emerge downy on the underside. The fall color is variable, from orange-yellow to pinkish or reddish.
It has perfect flowers that are 15–25 millimetres (0.59–0.98 in) diameter, with 5 petals, emerging during budbreak in early spring. The petals are white. Flowers are produced on pendulous racemes 3–5 centimetres (1.2–2.0 in) long with 4-10 flowers on each raceme. The flowers are pollinated by bees. The fruit is a reddish-purple pome, resembling a small apple in shape. They ripen in summer and are very popular with birds.
This species tolerates varying light levels, but is at its best in full sun. It requires good drainage and air circulation and should be watered during drought. It is often confused with other species in the nursery trade. Propagation is by seed, divisions and grafting.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Amelanchier arborea.|
|Wikispecies has information related to: Amelanchier arborea|
- "Amelanchier arborea". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Retrieved November 24, 2004.
- "Amelanchier arborea (Michx. f.) Fernald common serviceberry". USDA. Plants Profile. Retrieved November 24, 2004.
- "Amelanchier arborea". Missouriplants. Retrieved November 24, 2004.
- Amelanchier arborea. Trees of Wisconsin.
- Bioimages: Amelanchier arborea images
- "Amelanchier × grandiflora". Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
Names and Taxonomy
The currently accepted scientific name for downy serviceberry is
Amelanchier arborea (Michx.) Fern.( Rosaceae) . Downy serviceberry
hybridizes with the following species :
A. humilis Wieg.
A. canadensis (L.) Medic.
A. laevis Wieg.
A. bartramiana (Tausch) Roemer
Hybridization is common and usually produces fertile offspring. Authors
differ in their treatment of the hybrids .
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