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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Serviceberry


(Amelanchier arborea (Mickx. f Fern)

  Serviceberry also is known as service-tree or shadbush. In North Carolina, it is called "sarvis." It is found throughout the state but develops best on mountain slopes. The common name of shadbush was given to the tree by early settlers, who associated its blooming with April shad runs. It is a small tree, 2 to 50 feet high and 1/2 to 1 1/2 feet in diameter, with a rather narrow, rounded top. Often, it is little more than a shrub.

The thin, ashy gray bark is smooth on the branches and upper part of the stem and breaks into shallow fissures on the short trunk. The leaves are alternate, slender-stalked, ovate, pointed, finely toothed, 2 to 4 inches long and purplish-brown until nearly mature. When mature, the leaves become light green. Young leaves are covered with scattered silky hairs.

The terminal buds are long and pointed but are smaller than those of beech. The white flowers appear in standing or drooping clusters in early spring -- before or with the leaves -- making the tree noticeable in the leafless or budding forest.

The fruit is sweet, edible, rounded, one-third to one-half an inch in diameter and dark purple to black when ripe -- in early June. Most birds and animals of the forest eat the serviceberry fruit.

The wood is heavy, extremely hard, strong, close-grained and dark brown. It occasionally is used for furniture and turnery. Serviceberry is a desirable ornamental tree.
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