Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center

Serviceberry

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Every month, Native Plant Nursery Manager Bridget McNassar shares information about one of the plants she and her team propagate in the nursery. This month’s species: Serviceberry. 

A lovely, erect shrub, sometimes growing to small tree size, serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) truly lives up to its name, providing generously for humans and wildlife alike throughout much of the year. A plant with many names (you may have also heard it called juneberry, sarvisberry or Saskatoon) serviceberry is also quite wide-spread. It can be found in every county in Washington.

At Oxbow, the fragrant, graceful, white-petaled flowers are blooming right now. Once the day heats up a little bit, there are a wealth of pollinators, including native bees and hummingbirds, that visit the flowers. The foliage is especially attractive as well—a deep green with serrated edges turning a beautiful yellow in the fall. In early to mid-summer, we start to see the beautiful deep purple berries.

Beloved by many birds, such as waxwings, chickadees and woodpeckers, you may miss them if you are not watching for them!  The young branches are a pretty reddish color, turning to gray as they age, creating some winter beauty in the garden.

Typically found in open woods, forest edges, hillsides and prairies, serviceberry is quite happy out in the sun. It is drought-tolerant and can get quite dry and be just fine. It will befineas well in partial sun with semi-moist soils. In the home garden, it works well in a hedgerow or border. If you are a bird-watcher, place it in an area where you can enjoy the avian visitors that will flock to devour the fruits in mid-summer. It can grow as tall as 20 feet, though likely will remain more around 12 feet, so plan accordingly for this height growth when planting.

Our crop of serviceberry is coming along very nicely and should be ready for sale this fall.

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