Amelanchier laevis (Smooth Serviceberry)
|Also known as:
|Smooth Shadbush, Allegheny Serviceberry, Smooth Juneberry
|part shade, sun; average to dry soil; forest understory, woodland edges, shrubby fields and meadows, windbreaks, roadsides
|April - May
|6 to 45 feet
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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Upright racemes 2 to 4 inches tall with 5 to 12 white flowers at tips of branch twigs, emerging with the leaves in early spring. Flowers are about 1 inch across with 5 narrowly oblong-elliptic petals. In the center are 18 to 20 creamy-yellow tipped stamens surrounding green, hairless ovary with a long, green 5-parted style at the summit.
The 5 sepals are narrowly triangular, ¼ to about 1/3 as long as the petals, woolly hairy on the inner surface, spreading to strongly curved downward (recurved) soon after flowering. Flower stalks are hairless, ¼ to 1 inch long at flowering, elongating up to 1½ inches in fruit.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are alternate, 1½ to 4¾ inches long, 1 to 2 inches wide, egg-shaped to oblong-elliptic to inversely egg-shaped, widest above or below the middle, rounded to somewhat heart-shaped at the base, pointed at the tip, sometimes abruptly so. Edges are finely toothed with 22 to 45 teeth per side. At flowering time, leaves are strongly bronze-tinged, folded and about half their mature size, with both surfaces usually hairless, sometimes sparsely hairy. Later, leaves become green, flat and hairless. Leaf stalks are hairy and up to 1 inch long.
Young twigs are reddish-brown and hairless with small scattered lenticels (pores) and developing a whitish, wax-like coating that becomes flaky the first winter, turning dull gray with age. Buds are red-brown, lance-elliptic, long and slender with a sharply pointed tip, hairless except for a fringe of hairs around bud scale edges.
Mature bark is mottled gray, smooth except for shallow fissures but old trees develop deeper furrows and flat ridges. Stems are single or multiple from the base, erect, up to 7 inches in diameter on larger stems, with a crown typically taller than wide. Plants are not colony-forming or root-suckering.
Serviceberries (other common names are Shadbush or Juneberry) are a large group of small trees or shrubs that dot our woodlands and meadows with sprays of white flowers, just as other trees begin to leaf out in early spring. Most of them inhabit the eastern forests of North America with Minnesota on the westernmost edge of the range, and different species are often growing in close association. They are a perplexing group to identify with few distinct characteristics for any given species. Hybridization between species is frequent with diverging and integrating forms common. Within a species, traits like hairiness and leaf shapes are variable and leaf forms often differ within a single individual, depending on what part of the branches they are found. Specific site conditions like sunlight, soil type and moisture levels can also have great influence. Because some characteristics like leaf hairs can change over the season, early and late observations may be necessary for correct identification.
Smooth Serviceberry is common in Minnesota. The general growth and leaf form is similar to both Inland Serviceberry (A. interior) and Downy Serviceberry (A. arborea), but A. laevis can be distinguished by the combination of a smooth, hairless ovary (unlike A. interior) and young leaves typically with hairless undersides (unlike both others) that are a rich bronze color at flowering time. The top of the ovary can be seen in flower or in fruit and A. arborea is the only other Serviceberry currently known to be in Minnesota that has a hairless ovary. The hybrid cultivars sold in the nursery industry “Autumn Briliance” and “Princess Diana” are known hybrids between A. arborea and A. laevis that are designated as A. x grandiflora.
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- Smooth Serviceberry shrub
- Smooth Serviceberry tree
- bark of old trunks becomes furrowed with flat ridges
- stems are clumped
- at flowering leaves are rich bronze, mostly hairless, about half their mature size
- the top of the ovary is hairless
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Anoka County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Lake and Ramsey counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?