Serviceberry grows best in full sun or part-shade. It is not fussy about the type of soil and can do fairly well in soil that is poor. However, it much prefers soil to be well-drained, well-aerated and acidic. The serviceberry needs medium watering and not much maintenance. It is said to be not fond of pruning, but suckers can be removed in the winter to help the tree look more tree-like.
The serviceberry grows 15 to 25 feet tall and just as wide and has beautiful scarlet leaves in the fall. It grows about a foot a year. Best of all, it produces edible fruit and produces it earlier than a lot of other trees. They begin as green berries that deepen to red and are purplish black by early summer. These berries resemble and are used much like blueberries. Wildlife adore the berries, so the gardener should be careful to pick some before they’re all gone!
A member of the rose family, the serviceberry has 2 inch, oval, alternate leaves with fine teeth at the edges, and smooth, gray-brown bark. The 3/4 inch flowers open well before the leaves.
The serviceberry is excellent planted in shrub borders or in a garden showcasing native plants. It looks spectacular against a stand of pine trees that show off its shape and its gorgeous white flowers in the spring and its blazing red leaves in the fall.
According to folklore, this little tree gets its name because it bloomed just in time for the ground to thaw enough for burials, and its berries were turned into wine for church services.