Palouse Prairie Foundation plant database (under development)
Genus species:      Common name:     Match: Full Partial
Plant Species: Amelanchier alnifolia, serviceberry

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta -- flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida -- dicots
Family: Rosaceae -- rose
Genus: Amelanchier
Species: alnifolia
Variety: var. alnifolia and var. cusickii may occur on the Palouse.
Common Name: serviceberry, Saskatoon serviceberry, shadbush, sarviceberry, juneberry
Species Code: AMAL2
Origin: Native to open woods, open hillsides, and moist places from Alaska to California east to Alberta and south to New Mexico.
Rare: no

Form: tree or shrub 2-7m (6-20ft) tall, spreading to erect; bark glabrous, reddish-brown aging to grey; buds alternate, reddish-brown, conical 3-6mm long, scale edges hairy.
Duration: perennial
Habitat Type: prairie, forest, riparian
Wetland Indicator Status: FACU

Leaves: alternate, deciduous, thin, oblong to oval, 10-12 individual parallel side veins; generally coarsely toothed above the middle, no glands on leaf or petiole.
Mature height: 6-20 feet
Flowers: white, 5-10mm long; 3-20 in short racemes; April-July
Flower color: white
Bloom: April, May, into June, July at higher elevations
Bloom starts on: April
Bloom ends on: May
Fruit: dark purple pome, 10-14mm long
Vegetation type:
A. florida in Piper & Beattie 1914. They, along with St. John (1963), recognized two other species, A. cusickii and A. basalticola, which are now placed in synonymy with or as varieties of A. alnifolia.
There have been a number of varieties and subspecies proposed, but all tend to intergrade. Currently there are 4 varieties commonly recognized, two of which (var. alnifolia and var. cusickii) may occur on the Palouse.
The Nez Perce people considered this the best wood for arrows.
36,300-113,800 seeds/lb (Hassell et al 1996).
60,051 seeds/lb (USDA NRCS PLANTS Database 2008).
Flowers are perfect, usually appearing coetaneously but sometimes precociously.
Fruits are edible and were a dietary staple of Native Americans.
Stems were used by native peoples for arrows and stakes (Stubbendieck et al 1997).
Fruit is a pome.
Seed can be dispersed by bears (Auger et al 2002). It is also dispersed by other animals which eat the fruit (Brinkman & Strong undated).
Bark is eaten by beavers and marmots (Stubbendieck et al 1997).
A. alnifolia is an highly valuable browse for Rocky Mountain elk in all seasons (Kufeld 1973).
Fruits are eaten by birds and wildlife. Twigs and leaves are browsed by wildlife.
A. alnifolia is a host for the larva of the pale swallowtail butterfly, Papilo eurymedon (Pocewicz 2005), and Lorquin’s admiral, Limentis lorquini (Pyle 2002).

Sun requirement: full to partial sun
Soil moisture: mesic
Precipitation: 12-30 inches (USDA NRCS PLANTS Database 2008).
Fire: Sprouts from surviving root crown. Usually survives even severe fires especially if soil is moist at time of fire. Coverage may decrease and frequency increase following fire (Patterson et al 1985).

Sowing time: Untreated seed should be fall sown. Pretreated seed can be spring sown.
Transplant time: spring or fall
Stratification: extended cold moist stratification
Seed yield:
Seed harvest: must be hand collected
Seed first harvest:
Seed cleaning: Fruit should be refrigerated until cleaned. Seed is separated from the fleshy pome by macerating the fruit in water. Sound seed will sink to the bottom and the liquid and pulp can be poured off. Seed should be air dried before storage.
Planting duration: long
Seed insect problem:
Seed shatter: Seed must be collected before birds eat the fruits.
Seed size: medium
Seed harvest date:
Seed comments:

Herbaria: Specimen data and digital resources from The Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria
Key words:
Alternate Genus:
Alternate Species:
Alternate Variety:

7 protocols in the Native Plant Network

Other propagation information:
Requires 3-20 months cold stratification. Acid scarification before stratification may improve germination. Maximum laboratory germination is obtained with acid scarification and a media moistening agent of 300 ppm benzyadenine and 100 mm thiourea (Weber et al 1982).
3-4 months cold stratification or 4 months warm stratification followed by 4 months cold stratification. Fungal growth during stratification must be controlled (McTavish 1986).
Seeds need 3 weeks of cold moist stratification @ 5oC, then germinate with light (Chirco and Turner 1986).
Give seeds a 15 minute presoak in 5-10% hydrogen peroxide then 4 months of cold moist stratification in a plastic bag with perlite (Hudson & Carlson 1998).
Cold moist stratification is needed but germination is erratic. Direct seedings should occur in the fall (Kingery et al 2003).
Needs 3-6 months of cold moist stratification (Kruckeberg 1996).
Propagated by seed, suckers, or layering. Average of 82,000 seeds/lb. Seed requires 90-180 days of cold moist stratification or 4 months of warm moist stratification followed by 4 months of cold moist stratification, or scarify. Seed germinates at low temperatures. Seed should be cleaned immediately after collection (Kaiser 2003).
Requires cold moist stratification for 4-6 months. Root cuttings or divisions may also be used (Rose et al 1998).
Seed may require 2-6 mo of cold moist stratification @ 34-40oF (Link et al 1993).
Excess drying of seeds may induce a deep secondary dormancy. Seeds require 98-180 days of cold moist stratification at 1-6oC. Germination may occur at low temperatures during stratification. May take 2 years to germinate. Half shade during the first year of growth after germination is beneficial (Brinkman & Strong undated in Woody Plant Seed Manual).
Needs 2-6 months of cold moist stratification at 41oF (Young & Young 1986).
Seed stores up to 15 years in an unheated warehouse (Stevens et al 1981).
Etiolated softwood cuttings can be rooted with a combination of intermittent mist and auxin (Nelson 1987).

Amelanchier alnifolia has showy white flowers and dark blue to purple pomes.

Auger, Janene, Susan E. Meyer, and Hal L. Black. 2002. Are American Black Bears (Ursus americanus) Legitimate Seed Dispensers for Fleshy-fruited Shrubs? American Midland Naturalist 147(2):352-367.

Brinkman K.A., and T. F. Strong. undated. Amelanchier Medik. serviceberry. In: Bonner, Franklin T., and Rebecca G. Nisley (eds.). Woody Plant Seed Manual. USDA Forest Service. Available online at

Chirco, Ellen, and Terry Turner. 1986. Species Without AOSA Testing Procedures. The Newsletter of the Association of Official Seed Analysts 60(2):2-66.

Davis, Ray J. 1952. Flora of Idaho. Wm. C. Brown, Dubuque, Iowa. 827 pp.

Flessner, Teresa. 2002. Description, Use and Establishment of Pacific Serviceberry. USDA, NRCS Plant Materials Tech. Note 49. Spokane, WA.

Hitchcock, C. Leo, Arthur Cronquist, Marion Ownbey, and J.W. Thompson. 1969. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press. Seattle, WA. 5 vol.

Hudson, Shelley, and Michael Carlson. 1998. Propagation of Interior British Columbia Native Plants from Seed. British Columbia Ministry of Forests. Online at

Kaiser, Betsy. 2003. Native Plant Notebook. USDA Forest Service, Umatilla National Forest. Online at Accessed 1/3/06.

Kingery, James, Angela Cotter, and Kendra Moseley. 2003. Idaho Roadside Revegetation Handbook. Prepared for: Idaho Transportation Department. Department of Rangeland Ecology and Management, University of Idaho. Online at

Kruckeberg, Arthur R. 1996. Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press. Seattle, WA.

Kufeld, Roland. 1973. Foods Eaten by the Rocky Mountain Elk. Journal of Range Management 26:106-113.

Link, Ellen (ed.). 1993. Native Plant Propagation Techniques for National Parks Interim Guide. USDA, NRCS, Rose Lake Plant Materials Center. East Lansing, MI.

McTavish, Bruce. 1986. Seed Propagation of Some Native Plants Is Surprisingly Successful. American Nurseryman 164(4):55-56, 60,62-63.

Nelson, S.H. 1987. Effects of Stock Plant Etiolation on the Rooting of Saskatoon Berry. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 67:299-303.

Piper, C.V., and R.K. Beattie. 1914. The Flora of Southeastern Washington and Adjacent Idaho. Lancaster, PA: Press of the New Era Printing Company. 296 pp.

Pocewicz, Amy. 2005. Host Plants of Palouse Butterfly Species. 2 page handout to accompany the April 2005 presentation to the Palouse Prairie Foundation.

Pyle, Robert M. 2002. The Butterflies of Cascadia. The Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington. 420 pp.

Rose, Robin, Caryn E.C. Chachulski, and Diane L. Haase. 1998. Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, OR.

Stevens, Richard, Kent R. Jorgensen, and James N. Davis. 1981. Viability of Seed From Thirty-two Shrub and Forb Species Through Fifteen Years of Warehouse Storage. Great Basin Naturalist 41:274-277.

St. John, Harold. 1963. Flora of Southeastern Washington and of Adjacent Idaho. 3rd edition. Outdoor Pictures. Escondido, CA.

Stubbendieck, James, Stephan L. Hatch, and Charles H. Butterfield. 1997. North American Range Plants. 5th edition. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE. 501 pp.

USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (, 13 July 2009). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Weber, G.P., L.E. Wiesner, and R.E. Lund. 1982. Improving Germination of Skunkbrush Sumac and Serviceberry Seed. Journal of Seed Technology 7:60-71.

Young, James A. and Cheryl G. Young. 1986. Collecting, Processing and Germinating Seeds of Wildland Plants. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

Zamora, Benjamin, and Thomas Gnojek. 2001. Total Available Carbohydrates in Serviceberry after Late Summer and Fall Burning. pp. 302-305 in: McArthur, E. Durant and Daniel J. Fairbanks (comps.). 2001. Shrubland Ecosystem Genetics and Biodiversity: Proceedings. June 13-15, 2000. Provo, UT. US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-P-21. Ogden, Utah. 365 p.

Plant Profile from the USDA PLANTS Database
Plant Guide from the USDA PLANTS Database
Species information from the US Forest Service Fire Effects Information System
Species information from the University of Washington Herbarium