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Orchard Trees - Service Berries

( Originally Published 1927 )

A small genus of pretty, slender trees related to apples, and in the rose family, has representatives in every continent of the Northern Hemisphere, and also in North Africa. Their natural range is greatly extended by the efforts of horticulturists, for the trees are among the best flowering species.

The Service-berry

Amelanchier Canadensis, T. & G.

The Eastern service-berry, June-berry, or shad-bush, is often seen in parks and on lawns; its delicate, purple-brown branches covered in April, before the oval leaves appear, with loose, drooping clusters of white flowers. (See illustration, page 182.) Under each is a pair of red silky bracts and the infant leaves are red and silky, all adding their warmth of color when the tree is white with bloom. The blossoms pass quickly, just about the time the shad run up the rivers to spawn. We may easily trace this common name to the early American colonists who frugally fished the streams when the shad were running, and noted the charming little trees lighting up the river banks with their delicate blossoms, when all the woods around them were still asleep. In June the juicy red berries call the birds to a feast. Then the little tree quite loses its identity, for the forest is roofed with green, and June-berries are quite over-shadowed by more self-assertive species.

The borders of woods in rich upland soil, fron Newfoundland to the Dakotas and south to the Gulf, are the habitat and range of this charming little tree.

The Western Service-berry

A. alnifolia, Nutt.

The Western service-berry grows over a vast territory which extends from the Yukon River south through the Coast Ranges to northern California and eastward to Manitoba and northern Michigan. In the rich bottom lands of the lower Columbia River, and on the prairies about Puget Sound, it reaches twenty feet in height, and its nutritious, pungent fruits are gathered in quantities and dried for winter food by the Indians. Indeed, the horticulturists consider this large juicy fine-flavored, black berry quite worthy of cultivation, as it grows in the wild to one inch in diameter—the average size of wild plums.

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