The Plant Native

Serviceberry

Highlights

You can plant a small tree with edible berries that taste like a cross between a blueberry and a raspberry. And not only that—it’s gorgeous year-round. In the spring, the tree is one of the earliest to flower with heavenly white bunches of delicate flowers. Enjoy snacking on its fruit in the summer. In the fall, its leaves turn fiery shades of orange and red. Serviceberries are so pretty—they are great for high-profile places like front yards. Why are serviceberries not everywhere? Scroll on for planting tips!

Full Sun – Part Shade
Up to 20′ tall
Berries appear in June
Amelanchier genus
Yep—this is what a Downy Serviceberry looks like in the fall! GORGEOUS!!

Dig Deeper

Explore the history, types, and where to plant native serviceberries

Table of Contents

If you are a fan of flowering trees (and who isn’t?!) have we got a tree for you. Meet the serviceberry! There are many species of serviceberry native to North America, each specific to a region and climate. Each of these trees offers gorgeous flowers in the spring, edible fruit in the summer, and fiery leaves in the fall. They are a must-plant alongside other flowering favorites like native dogwoods, magnolias, redbuds, fringe trees, and catalpas.

In this article, we’ll introduce a few species of serviceberry, alongsider their growing regions and attributes. But first off—why should you plant a serviceberry?

What are the benefits of planting a serviceberry?

Planting native plants like serviceberries makes our landscapes gorgeous while helping the birds, butterflies, and animals (and helping save us time!) Here are four reasons why planting a native tree like a serviceberry is worth it:

  1. Without native plants, iconic animals like songbirds won’t have the food or homes needed to survive
  2. Native plants save time and money: after the first year of getting established, native plants are happy with rain
  3. Native plants are gorgeous! Serviceberries are a perfect example of how beautiful and resilient native plants are—they are always the best choice for our gardens
  4. Serviceberries are delicious for humans, too. Serviceberry fruits are edible for birds and people alike!
Serviceberries are total bird magnets! Plant one and get some binoculars and a zoom lens

Why is it called serviceberry?

The word ‘service’ refers to church! According to the USDA, “in some regions, the flowers are gathered for church services, hence serviceberry.” You can imagine early colonists seeing these bright, blooming branches and bringing them in to cheer the gloom of early church structures.

Native species of serviceberry

There are many native species of serviceberry, offering options to plant no matter where you live

Downy Serviceberry

Amelanchier arborea

40+ bird species eat these berries, so if you’re a bird lover—this is a tree for you. Downy Serviceberries are native to the entire eastern seaboard. They are called ‘downy’ because when their leaves first emerge, the undersides have a slightly fuzzy surface.

Downy Serviceberries top out as a smaller tree at 30′ high, making them perfect for front yard, statement trees (they won’t get too tall and block your house.)

Canadian Serviceberry

Amelanchier canadensis

Canadian Serviceberries are one of the earliest plants to bloom in the spring. And contrary to its name, you can plant Canadian Serviceberries from Florida up to Canada—its native range is huge. Canadian Serviceberries get to be 20-30′ high.

Utah Serviceberry

Amelanchier utahensis

This is a tough and beautiful native tree! Utah Serviceberries grow in canyons, stream edges, and ridges of the Southwest. They need just 10-20″ of water a year to thrive. Native Americans used the fruits in many different meals. If you live in the southwest, this is a special, beautiful tree to plant.

Where can I find native Serviceberries?

Sadly, finding specific native plants can be a little challenging—but we are here to make this step a little easier ideally. 

Here are four sourcing ideas for finding native Serviceberries:

Serviceberry

Where can I find seeds and plants?

Finding native plants can be challenging (we partly blame Marie Antoinette.) To make it easier, we’ve assembled four sourcing ideas.

Native Plant Nurseries

Our list of native nurseries makes finding one a breeze

Online Communities

Local Facebook groups are a great plant source

What other native trees have flowers?

There are SO MANY amazing native, flowering trees that will put gardens in your skies. Unlike non-native flowering trees, the native trees of North America require minimal effort to thrive. Our guide to native dogwoods and magnolias gives a good overview of some favorites. Other beauties to consider include:

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Cucumber Magnolia

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Franklin Tree

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Fringe Tree

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Pawpaw Tree

redbud-tree-in-bloom-native-tree

Redbud

A white Sweetbay Magnolia flower blooming, photographed growing on a branch of the Sweetbay Magnolia tree.

Sweetbay Magnolia

What are other edible native plants?

If you’re looking to eat from your garden, you’re in luck: there are lots of edible native plants. Some favorites include:

Serviceberries are a true unsung hero of North American trees and shrubs. Few plants offer the beauty, resiliency, and yummy treats that serviceberries do. Not only that—plant one and it will come back for generations. Planting native trees like serviceberries ensures that future generations and the iconic wildlife we love will have food and beauty for decades and decades. They deserve a spot in a highly visible place, which is why they’re on our Best Native Trees for Front Yards round-up Happy planting!

UPDATED —
04/18/2024
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