poetry and prose about place

Serviceberry (Amelanchier sp.)

with 12 comments

In the corner of our property is a usually-inconspicuous bush struggling to become a tree.  This time of year it comes out of anonymity in full bloom.  Today it is covered in white flowers – in a week it will be a scattering of confetti on the ground.

This bush is one of the Amelanchier species, probably Amelanchier sanguinea var. alnifolia (Nutt.) P. Landry.  Amelanchier is perplexing to identify to species because of hybridization and other complex genetics.    It has many common names, including Serviceberry, Wild Pear, Juneberry, Shadbush, Wild Plum, Sugar Pear, Saskatoon, and Chuckley Pear.  In French it is called poiriers or petites poires.  It is called Shadbush because it blooms at the same time the shad are running.  The American Shad is an anadromous fish caught as it makes its way up the rivers for spawning.

Amelanchier is often found on disturbed sites, along roadways and fields.  It also likes the edges of thickets and wet areas.  This time of year, it beautifies the landscape with frail white bloom.

The fruit of Amelanchier is a berry-like pome, dark purple in color.  Each berry contains 10 seeds and the sepal is persistent on the blossom end of the berry.  The berries are edible and sweet, and can be eaten raw or used to make jam.



the shad are running


after the hard rain

and the wind between cold front and warm

the river runs brown

and for dinner we have fiddleheads

new potatoes and shad,

and last-July’s Serviceberry jam


Serviceberry bushes are torn fish nets

holes poked through with fingers

petals scattered on mossy stones

along the river shore





1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.
©  Jane Tims   2012

12 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I like the comparison between serviceberry bushes and torn fish nets, especially when you’re having fish and serviceberry jam with your dinner…


    Barbara Rodgers

    May 20, 2012 at 9:41 am

    • Hi Barbara. Thanks for the comment on the metaphor. Metaphor is the best part of poetry. Because the Serviceberry bushes are so thinly flowered, they are full of holes, and hard to photograph. Jane


      jane tims

      May 20, 2012 at 11:39 am

  2. Aha, so that’s what serviceberry is. Thanks, as usual! Jane


    Jane Fritz

    May 17, 2012 at 10:19 pm

  3. I sometimes wonder, when does a bush become a tree? There’s a fine line there somewhere 🙂

    I’m taking pictures of all of these blooming bushes/trees in hopes of figuring out what is what one of these days.


    Watching Seasons

    May 17, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    • Hi. I am sure it has to do with how high we can reach! I think I’ll look into this too. In the Peterson Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs, Petrides solves it by including three categories: tree, shrub, and small tree or shrub. Hmmmm… Jane


      jane tims

      May 18, 2012 at 6:50 am

  4. We don’t have shad, but the smelt have been running here. I’m never quite sure whether I like them–but each spring when I see them in the store I never can resist buying them.



    May 17, 2012 at 10:36 am

    • Hi Sheryl. It’s part of eating local, taking advantage of our available foods in season. Jane


      jane tims

      May 18, 2012 at 6:43 am

  5. Well Jane,,,I had no idea that you can make jam with these berries. Really.?????? All these years I could have made jam and didn’t,,what does it taste like.?



    May 16, 2012 at 8:34 am

    • Hi Patsi. It’s sweet and flavorful and a little seedy. You have to race the birds for the berries! Jane


      jane tims

      May 16, 2012 at 9:46 am

  6. So THAT’s what a Serviceberry bush is. Thanks Jane!



    May 16, 2012 at 7:47 am

    • Hi Denis. Not quite as pretty as Pear blossoms but beautiful in its own wild way! Jane


      jane tims

      May 16, 2012 at 9:42 am

I'd love to hear what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: