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Shadbush/Serviceberry/Juneberry Flowering

5-13-16 shadbush 028Botanists rely on the use of scientific names for plants in part because a given plant may have more than one common name, depending on what part of the country you find it in.  Using a plant’s genus and species eliminates any confusion or misidentification.  Shadbush is a perfect example of this.  There are many species of Amelanchier, but one that is common in the Northeast,  Amelanchier canadensis, has a minimum of eleven common names:  Canadian Serviceberry, Chuckleberry, Currant-tree, Juneberry, Shadblow Serviceberry, Shadblow, Shadbush, Eastern Shadbush, Shadbush Serviceberry, Sugarplum and Thicket Serviceberry.  Because it flowers around the same time as shad return to their spawning grounds, I lean towards the use of a common name that incorporates this saltwater-living, fresh water-spawning fish.

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14 responses

  1. kpmaxon

    In the Appalachians of southwest Virginia, we call it sarvis berry. Here’s a post I found regarding that name — http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com/blind_pig_the_acorn/2010/04/the-sarvis-tree-is-blooming-in-appalachia.html

    May 9, 2016 at 8:43 am

  2. Marilyn

    As we pass by these bushes now flowering, and annually ask each other, What IS that, anyway, perhaps the fish story will remind us!

    May 9, 2016 at 8:58 am

  3. kpmaxon, thank you! That is an amazing etymology! Mary, as usual, you have added pure nuggets of joy to my lexicon of plant names! I have 2 serviceberries that are just little shrubs. I think I will try and coax them into more lush growth and tend them more regularly now! They aren’t in bloom here yet, but should be soon!

    May 9, 2016 at 9:31 am

  4. Roseanne

    and I lean toward just using the botanical name. I came late enough to gardening that I pretty much skipped the common name phase and learned the Latin. I try to do this with birds as much as I can but if you referenced Turdus migratorius even many birders wouldnt realize you were talking about a robin

    >

    May 9, 2016 at 9:49 am

  5. Ann Ludders

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been seeing this in bloom the last week or so, and for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name shadbush. Serviceberry just seems too generic. Maybe the fish story will remind me too!

    May 9, 2016 at 10:50 am

  6. Yes, of course this is “Shad”. I urge interested folks to read, “The Founding Fish” , by John McPhee. … wonderful biological details along with the complete story of the connection to early settlers of the Connecticut River Valley. I am very pleased to learn that “serviceberry” is another possible name> Is this the same ‘serviceberry’ that bears favor ? Is there a berry ?

    May 9, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    • Yes, bears, foxes, humans and lots of songbirds eat the berry-like pome fruit!

      May 10, 2016 at 7:39 am

  7. k

    Does anyone know how to propagate this little tree? It looks so cheerful at t his time of year!

    May 9, 2016 at 9:15 pm

  8. Corelyn

    In New England the name Service Berry or Sarvis Berry supposedly comes from the fact that when it bloomed the ground had warmed up enough to dig and bury the bodies of those who had died over the winter and it was the time that the preachers made their rounds and performed graveside services for those dead.

    May 10, 2016 at 5:21 am

    • Corelyn…. same story that I grew up with here in Vermont. One thing I love about this tree is that frequently I see it on the forest edge leaning and twisting out for sunlight covered in blooms.

      May 10, 2016 at 7:44 am

  9. I love this shrub – it is one my favorite natives!

    May 10, 2016 at 10:00 pm

  10. In Maine, when you see the shadbush blooming, that’s when the black flies come out.

    May 10, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    • Exactly! They (black flies) are everywhere, just as the shad is flowering!

      May 11, 2016 at 8:24 am

      • I have planted three cultivars of Amelanchier which have been developed for fruit producing, I’m pleased that they have start blooming at such a young age. These trees also have beautiful fall color.

        May 11, 2016 at 8:36 am

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