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Shadbush

Amelanchier canadensis

Shadbush flowers bloom before its leaves grow back in spring. (Chicago Botanic Garden)
Shadbush flowers bloom before its leaves grow back in spring. (Chicago Botanic Garden)

The shadbush is a small, deciduous tree with white flower clusters that bloom in early spring. It grows in wet areas such as swamps and forested wetlands throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, mostly in the coastal plain.

Appearance:

  • Rounded, elongated leaves with fine teeth along the edges
  • Leaves are alternately arranged on the branches
  • Leaves turn brilliant red, orange and yellow in autumn
  • Clusters of white, five-petaled flowers bloom in March-May
  • Flowers bloom before leaves grow
  • Round, reddish-purple fruits
  • Several stems grow from the tree’s base
  • Grows to 25 feet tall

Habitat:

  • Grows along the edges of forested wetlands, bogs and swamps
  • Also found in low, open woods
  • Can be planted in wet and moist areas in yards

Range:

  • Grows throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed
  • Native to the coastal plain, which includes Delaware and parts of Maryland and Virginia

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Fruits appear after flowers bloom in spring. They turn blackish as they mature in June-July.
  • Fruits contain seeds inside
  • Birds and other wildlife eat the ripe fruits and spread the seeds

Other Facts:

  • Also known as serviceberry, shadblow and juneberry
  • A member of the rose family, which includes apple, cherry and hawthorn trees
  • Blooms around the same time shad return to their spawning grounds in the Bay’s freshwater rivers and streams. This is how the shadbush got its name.
  • Fruits are flavorful and edible, but birds and other wildlife usually get to them first
  • Native Americans relied on shadbush fruits as food and medicine
  • Can be confused with two other common serviceberry species: A. arborea and A. laevis. A. canadensis is the only serviceberry species that can grow in wet, swampy soil.

Sources and Additional Information:




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