Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) trees are ‘super-natives’, in my opinion. They are native, hardy, have beautiful early spring white blossoms followed by colorful fruit loved by wildlife, especially birds, and eatable by humans, and glow in rich fall colors.
They even have an interesting backstory. Serviceberry (or Sarvisberry if you prefer Old English) is but one common name. Two others are Juneberry and Shadblow. All are linked to early spring events that coincide with the species being among the first to bloom and certainly among the most conspicuous. Serviceberry is in recognition of long ago religious services for those that died in winter and their burial had to wait until the ground thawed. Shadblow connects Amelanchier blooming to the annual shad runs that were incredibly important in the lives of early settlers and into the early 20th century. Important enough that Pulitzer Prize winning author John McPhee wrote The Founding Fish.
I used term fruit above. That is because service’berries’ aren’t berries. Amelanchier belongs to the Rosaceae family. Rosacae species produce pomes, “a fruit consisting of a fleshy enlarged receptacle and a tough central core containing the seeds, e.g., an apple or pear.”
Serviceberry trees were among the first trees we planted when we decided to take our urban yard to Georgia Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary status. It was a great decision. Serviceberries have played a central role in my BirdingFromHome project.
And, let’s not forget the small mammals.