The delicate white flowers of serviceberries herald spring. Appearing in long clusters, these star-like blossoms arrive just before oval green leaves unfurl. Pollinators welcome serviceberries’ early spring nectar and pollen, and some moths and butterflies rely on them as host plants to live on as caterpillars.
In early summer, edible berries emerge, darkening from red to deep purple, depending on the species. Birds adore serviceberries, so they get lots of winged visitors, like woodpeckers, cedar waxwings and gray catbirds. Some types of berries are juicier than others. Saskatoon berries, for example, are delicious when eaten fresh or baked into pies.
Serviceberries range from small shrubs to trees. You can add them below an existing tall tree, grow them in clusters, or plant them along a fence with other small trees and shrubs, like alternate-leaved dogwood, ninebark or purple-flowering raspberry. Add wildflowers and groundcovers like wild ginger, wild columbine or wild geranium for an impressive spring display. Come fall, serviceberries’ brilliant orange-burgundy colour will make any yard stand out.
Some types of serviceberries, like the downy serviceberry, are tolerant to salt and drought, while others are pickier about where they’re planted. Generally, they’ll grow in most dry to moist soils, particularly if drainage is good. Serviceberries love part shade, but many will also grow in full shade or full sun. With their varying sizes and tolerances, it’s easy to find one that will thrive in your yard. Request our woodland plant list to learn which serviceberry is right for you.