Rest for Winter’s Dead

2019-04-07: Additions and link corrections

Amelanchier Flower Buds
Flower Buds, Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'

With a score or so species, subspecies, and natural hybrids native to northeastern North America, the genus Amelanchier goes by several common names, many of which represent the plants’ phenology:

It blooms – blowswhen the shad are running.
The edible, dark-purple fruit ripen in June.
It blooms now, when the ground has thawed enough to dig new graves, and services can be held for those who died during the Winter.
Alosa sapidissima, American Shad, print by Shermon Foote Denton, First Annual Report of the Commissioners of Fisheries, Game, and Forests of the State of New York (1896)

County-level map of Amelanchier distribution, Biota of North America Program (BONAP)
County-level map of Amelanchier distribution, Biota of North America Program (BONAP)

There are examples of Amelanchier blooming all around us, if you know what to look for. Unfortunately, you’re more likely to encounter Pyrus calleryana, Callery Pear, alien and invasive, and widely planted as street trees. This year, they started blooming before the Serviceberries.

Serviceberries, to my eye, are more elegant, with widely-spaced branches, and feathery flowers held in elongated clusters. My specimen, Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’, finally bloomed two days ago. It’s opening unevenly, still a day or two away from full bloom. Perhaps it’s as suspicious of our early Spring as I am, hoarding its treasures lest they all be squandered at once to a hard frost.

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'


Related Content

Native Plant Profile: Amelanchier x grandiflora


Wikipedia: Amelanchier
BONAP: Amelanchier

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