Which serviceberry is best suited for my yard and where would I find it?


I would like to plant a serviceberry shrub/tree in my yard. Which serviceberry is best suited for pruning as a tree and where would I find it? Maine Audubon sells Amelanchier canadensis but none of the other varieties. Would this work as a small tree or are there local nurseries that would have other native varieties that would work better?


Jonathan Foster, Community Education Assistant

Serviceberry is a lovely native Maine plant, and we approve of your interest in it! However, whether it will suit your needs is really a question of how large a specimen you want in your yard. Amelanchier canadensis will most likely grow into a larger tree than your “small tree” parameter allows. Some sources list it as possibly remaining a 15′ tree, but it will probably go higher and you won’t know until it’s too late to remove; it has the potential to shoot up to 30-35′. While it’s possible you might find a nursery offering a smaller or dwarf variety or cultivar, the species crossbreeds freely in the wild and it’s tough to really know what you’re getting unless the grower has detailed information about the plant’s origin. And while there is some anecdotal advise for keeping Amelanchier canadensis pruned down to shrub size, you’ll be working against the plant’s natural inclination constantly and it’s likely to be more effort than it’s worth.

If you like serviceberry, though, consider a Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) as an alternative if you can find one. It’s a relative shrub/small tree that grows suckers from the base and spreads by underground rhizomes (similar to grass), creating a bushy habit at maturity, and is quite pretty.

The University of Wisconsin has a nice bulletin all about ornamental serviceberries here and MOFGA (the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) has additional information here. If either of these species sounds like it would work for you, or if you want to explore other native alternatives, you can also find a list of Maine nurseries and greenhouses that offer native plants here.