Amelanchier canadensis (Shadblow)

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Adding this tree to landscape designs is a treat for bringing spring interest to areas where the right conditions for the tree exists.  The fact it developes fruit so early in the season is a feel-good aspect because mother birds feed their young with the edible fruit – plus this tree is native and extremely showy when it blooms in early spring against a backdrop of a lush wooded area.  Earlier this year, I saw a hybrid of it growing natural by the roadside and took a photo of the blooms.  It would be difficult to identify exactly which Amelanchier it was because of the variations which exist in the wild.

Wild Shot

Amelanchiers can get confusing.  There is A. arborea (serviceberry, shadbush) and A. canadensis (shadblow, downy shadblow) and A. laevis (allegheny shadbush) but they all look the same to me!  Either as a small singled stemmed tree or multi-stemmed shrub with fine textured twiggy branches and smooth gray bark.  The blue green leaves turn to orange and yellow or dull red in the fall, so it has a nice end of season interest as well.  And again, the white flowering in early spring is showy before the leaves expand on this plant.  It is a great naturalizing looking plant near streams or other woodland trees.  You can use this tree near a patio or courtyard as well providing you have appropriate space.

It is deciduous and blooms around the same time shad spawn.  Yes, shad the fish!  Thus the common name, shadblow or shadbush.  The slightly fragrant white, 5-petaled  flowers bloom during the April to May timeframe.  The foliage is kind of dainty and narrow.  The shape of the tree is somewhat oval.  Place it in a sun to part shade location where there is average, moist, well-drained soils.  Look for the newer cultivars which are usually more resistant to disease or bug problems.  And remember to read the lables.  Plant labels are packed with information more than ever.  Read them for they can offer more explanation about the plant. 

Amelanchiers are useful as accents, along the woods as mentioned above, as a group planting for impact in the spring, and for fall color in an informal setting.  It starts to flower the first year and has a semi-fast growth rate. It is also native – another bonus!  Planting candidates indigenous to our local area is a good thing for you and the plants.  Since they are native, they are usually adaptable and easier to grow in some cases. 

Natives are growing in popularity too. To learn more about natives, visit http://plants.usda.gov where you can search by geography, just click the CT option to get a complete list.  Another great source are plants by the American Beauties Native Plants program.  Look for the American Beauties labels at your nurseries.  And look for the white blooms of Amelanchiers this spring!  Cathy T

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