Juneberries

Amelanchier spp.

More than 25 species of Juneberries—also known as shadbush, Alleghany serviceberry, sugar pear, and Saskatoon—are native to North America. The fruit is technically a pome (like an apple), not a berry. These small trees grow up to 25 feet tall and are very attractive, with plentiful white flowers that bloom in late April to early May, usually showing before the fine-textured leaves fully develop. Juneberries have attractive gray bark, an upright branching habit that becomes horizontal with age, and showy red fall foliage. Use a dark background to emphasize these fine landscaping qualities.

The fruits are 1/4 to 3/8 inch in diameter and fleshy red, turning purplish blue to black. They are juicy with a mild flavor, ripening in late June. Birds are fond of Juneberries. Native Americans and early settlers gathered them and dried them for winter use. Juneberries are commonly used in pies and preserves, and lemon enhances their flavor.

Growing Juneberries

Most Juneberries are hardy in Zones 3 to 9 (some are hardy in Zone 2) and grow well throughout most of New York State. They prefer full sun and acidic, moist, well-drained soil, but they will tolerate shade and a wide range of soil types. Red spider mites are an occasional pest problem on dry sites, and Juneberries are susceptible to common apple pests.

Naturalistic sites are ideal for Juneberries. They are difficult to train to a single stem. You can remove suckers to train to a single-stemmed small tree or leave them for a multistemmed shrubby effect. Otherwise, they require little or no pruning.

Shannon and Indian are very productive cultivars with large fruit. Smoky and Pembina have the best flavor. Success and Dwarf Mountain are common older cultivars.

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