[nafex] Saskatoons (A. alnifolia) varieties for the warmer regions

Ginda Fisher list at ginda.us
Sun Dec 23 11:59:21 EST 2012

On Dec 22, 2012, at 1:53 PM, Steven Covacci wrote:

> In addition to the typical species of serviceberry/juneberries, What varieties of saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia) specifically can grow in zone 6b/7a?  I believe that 'Regent' is one such that can deal with the heat.  I grow A. canadensis, A. laevis, A. stolonifera, and hybrids of these, but I'd really like to grow A. alnifolia.  It's untrue to claim they will not thrive in my region because NYC (zone 7a) has many successful, thriving plantings of it (I just don't know what varieties they plant).
> I have 'Regent' (hasn't yet fruited) and might want to try Smokey, Martin and Northline.

I have no personal experience with serviceberries, beyond occasionally finding and eating some, and having a random wild seedling in my backyard. (It gets almost no sun and produces almost no fruit, all of which is eaten by birds before I can get to it.) But I've read a lot of people talking about them over the years, and I've observed them in ornamental plantings.

The species grows wild across most of the continent. But the "domestic" ones were mostly developed for the Canadian prairie, which is not only very cold in the winter, but very dry in the summer. I think the problem with growing service berries is not so much that they don't like heat as that the ones selected for the prairie are very susceptible to an assortment of fungal problems in damp climates like MA and NJ. They certainly get cedar/apple rust (or something that looks a lot like it) and I think they get other stuff, too. But there are a bunch of wild ones that thrive up and down the east coast, and those ones are probably better stock for you to work with. I've certainly seen wild serviceberries growing along Lake Winnepasauke that were loaded with fruit and appeared healthy (and attractive). So some of them have the genes to cope with east-coast climate.

If you know of plantings that are doing well in a climate similar to yours, it might be worth taking a field trip during fruiting season, and collecting seeds (well, fruits) from plants that appear to be healthy and have little evidence of fungus. 

Eastern MA, zone 6

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