Family: Rosacae. Synonymy: None. Etymology




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Amelanchier utahensis Koehne
by Helen Fairly, Native Plants Class

Common names: Serviceberry; also Hairy Serviceberry, Shadberry, Shadbush or Juneberry.

Family: Rosacae.

Synonymy: None.
Etymology: The epithet utahensis refers to its type locality In Utah.

 

Identification



Growth form: Serviceberry is a tall shrub or small tree, 6 to 15 feet tall, with intricately branched and generally upward pointing growth pattern.
Roots: The root system consists of
Stem: Stems have smooth gray bark.
Leaves: Leaves are alternate, simple, deciduous, round to oval (2-4 cm long, 1.7-2.5 cm wide), and slightly hairy. Lower leaf margins are smooth, but upper margins are toothed.
Inflorescence/flowers: Inflorescences are tiny white, star-shaped, delightfully fragrant flowers with five slender petals often growing in clusters of 3 to 6. The flowers appear in spring before the plant leafs out.

Fruit: The fruit is small, fleshy, vaguely apple-like in form, pale orange to yellow in color and slightly sweet.

Similar species: Amelanchier alnifolia (Western Serviceberry) is a close relative of Utah Serrviceberry. The two species can be difficult to distinguish, and they often hybridize (4). Amelanchier alnifolia can be distinguished from A. uthahensis by having smoother leaves and a more tree-like growth habit, plus the fruits are usually dark reddish-purple in color..

 

Ecology



Life history: Serviceberry is a long-lived perennial shrub.
Native/introduced: Native.
Photosynthetic pathway:. C3
Phenology: In northern Arizona, Serviceberry flowers from late March to May. Fruits are disseminated in June, July and August (1).

Distribution: Alaska and Yukon, east to Minnesota, south to Arizona, and from northern California and east to the Rocky Mountains. It is usually found growing on rocky, moist (north facing) slopes in the pinyon-juniper woodlands and ponderosa pine forests. In Arizona, Serviceberry is usually found between 1200-2500 m (4000-8000 feet) elevation, although it is reported to occur as low as 600 m (2000 feet) and as high as 3050 m (10,000 ft) (1,2) .

 

Uses



Wildlife: Serviceberry is an important food for over 60 species of birds and mammal (1). The berries are eaten by birds, small rodents, and coyotes and foliage is extensively browsed by deer and elk. The berries were widely used by Native Americans. They were eaten fresh or dried, crushed and caked, and stored for winter use. Shoots were used for basketmaking by the Havasupai and Apache (1, 5). EuroAmerican pioneers used the fruits in wines, jams and jellies.

 

References




  1. Elmore, F. H. and J. R. Janish. 1976. Shrubs and Trees of the Southwest Uplands. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, Tuscon. 214 pp.

  2. Epple, A.O. 1995. A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona. LewAnn Publishing. Mesa, Arizona.347 pp.

  3. Hocking, G.M. 1956. Some Plants Used Medicinally and Otherwise by the Navaho Indians of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. El Palacio 56:146-165.

  4. Lanner, R. M. 1984. Trees of the Great Basin: A Natural History. University of Nevada Press. Reno. 215pp

  5. Weber, S.A. and D. P. Seaman. 1985. Havasupai Habitat: A.F. Whiting’s Ethnography of a Traditional Indian Culture. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. 288 pp.


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