Serviceberry Confusion

Scbnymph(z5 NY)December 11, 2005

Evening All.....

I am in the process of planning my garden projects for next year! I would like to "frame" a small set of steps leading up to a deck with a pair of Serviceberries (Amelanchier canadensis) but keep finding conflicting information about their height. I am looking forward to the multistemmed "messy" look which they will provide but I have seen the MAX height listed anywhere between 15ft to 40ft, can someone please provide a better idea of where in that range the height is likely to fall??

Also, since the Serviceberry is really a shrub is it possible to restrain its height??

Thanks for your help

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Betz11(8 UT)

I am not familiar with Amelanchier canadensis, however, we have Amelanchier alnifolia (also know as Saskatoon or June berries) growing in the mountains here. My information says they can get to be 20 feet tall, but I have never seen them any bigger than 8 to 10 feet tall. We live in a high desert vally on the western slope of the Rocky's, in zone 5a. I love the looks of the shrub and have intended to get some, but so far haven't.

Don't know if this helps or not. Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2005 at 9:40PM
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Scbnymph(z5 NY)

Betz11.....Thank you for your reply, this is exactly the kind of information I am looking for. I keep seeing this huge variance in maximum height and its getting confusing. After I posted this message last night I found another reference that said it can reach 50ft! This is obviously to large for my smallish backgarden but something in the 10ft - 20ft range is ideal. I guess I will just have to plant them and see!

I also figure that if its a shrub then I can keep it pruned back if it starts to get to large??

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 9:06AM
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I have seen fairly large serviceberries around here (probably A. laevis, not canadensis, though I can't tell them apare), but I don't think I've ever seen one much over 20 feet tall. These were plants growing as trees (with single or few trunks) and were probably pretty old and, of course, had never been pruned

If you buy a serviceberry that is in shrub form, you will have no trouble keeping it at a manageable size with (very) occasional pruning. My experience is that serviceberries are slow growers, especially in their typical semi-shade edge and understory habitats.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 10:36AM
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In Native Plants of the Northeast, Donald Leopold, there is a long section on amelanchior in the Trees section, with references to three specific ones (laevis, canadensis, and arboria) and then says there are at least five others "mostly shrubby in habit". The entry then directs reader to entry in the Shrubs section for amelanchior stolonifera: "thicket-forming [via stolons] small shrub with erect stems to about 5 feeet tall..." and goes on to talk about other "shrubby species". I just took this book out of the library, and plan to buy my own copy. Includes photos.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 11:20AM
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Scbnymph(z5 NY)

John_MO.....Thank you for you comments, sounds like I am worrying about them getting to big for no reason

Sunnysideuphill.....Thank you for your comments from that book, sounds like one I might have to add to my own bookshelf! It sounds like I might have to research a little better the type that I want so that I end up with a multi-stemmed pair

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 9:55AM
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nyssaman(Z6 ON)

There is no such thing as A.canadensis,. this is an imaginary species dreamed up by the horticultural industry to classify the very difficult species of Amelanchier that dont fit into the other varieties such as laevis and aborea and others. or they share characteristics of the different varieties all together

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 12:44PM
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windchime(z6a NJ)

Well, I hate to disagree with the above post, but the USDA has A. canadensis listed in their Plants Database. I did a search for Amelanchier, and there were 79 records found. I don't know about the horticulturists, but I know that botanists are continually reclassifying.

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA Plants Database

    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 7:39PM
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Scbnymph(z5 NY)

Thank you both for your comments. Nyssaman, your comments also confuse me a little since I also came across the information provided by the USDA Plant Database. Surely if the A canadensis doesn't "fit" into any of the other classifications then and / or it "shares" characteristics then it should have its own name (this is not an "attacking" question, I am trying to understand better)??

    Bookmark   December 27, 2005 at 7:06AM
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I don't think it is the horticulture industry that is 'creating' all the confusing Amelanchiers. I think the multiple names attached to similar plant types reflects the confusing taxonomy of these species, which is made more confusing by the natural hybrids that occur. For what it's worth, I think canadensis is a 'real' species, as opposed to horticultural hybrids like grandiflora (which is very nice, by the way).

But I don't think the taxonomy of Amelanchiers, especially of the laevis/arborea/canadensis type, is really relevant to the original question. Althoug there are some species that are definitely shrubby (like stolonifera), any of the above listed 'species' can be either tree-like or shrub-like, depending on local conditions and how they are managed.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2005 at 11:01AM
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Scbnymph(z5 NY)

John.....Thank you for your input, its amazing how there can be so many different "natural" hybrids etc. I have ordered two of the A canadensis which should arrive sometime in April. I have been told by the supplier (Cold Stream Farm) that their A canadensis have multiple stems, however can I "pinch" them like I would other perenials to encourage more stems / bushier growth or is this achieved a different way??

    Bookmark   December 28, 2005 at 7:42PM
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nyssaman(Z6 ON)

Geez I dont know lol, I used to think that it was a seperate species then I talked with this lady who runs the best native plant nursery here in Ontario who said the species didn't exist. Now I dont know what to think as this lady is an authority an extreme authority on native plants. She runs her nursery in the summer and in the winter she's doing restoration work in Africa. I like to get my info from different sources I'll run it by her I could have misunderstood her at the time but we were in her greenhouse looking at the different "A." Species she was growing I mentioned that I had 4 at home and the were "A. Can." and then she told me that they didn't really exist. Sounds like philosophy to me.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2006 at 9:17PM
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ScottReil_GD(z5 CT)

An aptly named thread as the debate rages on. Mike Dirr says that A. canandensis is a suckering shrub often confused withA. arborea and used interchangibly in the trade. I think interspecific breeding muddies the water a great deal, but have seen distinctly different habits between the shrubby suckering habit I find associated often with red maple swamp and the more arboreal type you see in dryer spots. I think we have room for two species here, and if Mike Dirr sez, I believe. He's a scientist and a plant lover, can't say I see a lot of philosopher (maybe a little comedian...)

    Bookmark   January 6, 2006 at 11:05PM
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Nyssaman: Just wondering where this native plant nursery is you're talking about. Would love to visit it. I'm in K-W area of Ontario.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 8:55AM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

Hey Nyssaman, Barb here from Woodstock! I'm interested in whatever native plant nursery you are referring to as well.

With regards to the A. canadensis, this all comes as a surprise to me as I've been planting with A. can for over 20 years and it's one of my favourite shrubs (substance, habit, growth and autumn colour). I have never known it to "sucker" though. That's a new one on me.

Nyssaman, drop me an email if you read this posting, I have some questions for you... Click here to email Barb


    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 9:54PM
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