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

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  • From: Ginda Fisher <>
  • To: nafex mailing list at ibiblio <>
  • Subject: Re: [nafex] Saskatoons (A. alnifolia) varieties for the warmer regions
  • Date: Sun, 23 Dec 2012 11:59:21 -0500

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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