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Plants of the Western Slope May 4, 2016

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Photo by Al Schneider www.swcoloradowildflowers.com Blossom and fruit of the serviceberry

A Rose is a Rose,
Is a Serviceberry?

Yes. Five separate petals and lots of stamens: That fits the rose family. And most of the lovely blossoming fruit trees in our area fit that description, too. Luckily, our delightful blossoming trees have not been frostbitten. Yet.

The trees come in pink and purple, white and maroon and I delight in their presence. Among the white blossoms there are the various pear and apple trees, while the crabapple has deep maroon flowers. These trees or shrubs are found in every U.S. state and for many of them, the most common name is "serviceberry." This term comes from the eastern settlers who used these early bloomers for burial service (when the ground had thawed enough to allow burial services). The very common eastern serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea, is a tree growing up to 30-feet tall and a trunk of perhaps a foot in diameter. Other names include "Juneberry" since the berries ripen in June and, along the Atlantic seacoast, the Shad fish run upstream to spawn so we have "Shadbush."

In our area we have two species of this shrub that are many branched and grow to perhaps 6-feet tall.They're both "serviceberry" but they are very difficult to tell apart. I gave up long ago and now I just admire the one that we planted in our yard! As the berries ripen they turn from green to pink and red and the bark is gray to purplish. The term "Amelanchier" is the name for a French plant and "alnifolia" means "foliage like an alder," so we have Amelanchier alnifolia for a proper name or Amelanchier utahensis.

Some people gather the ripe berries to make jellies and preserves. But our wildlife depend upon the fruit and foliage for food and so I think it's best left for them. On the road leading out of Crawford going toward Gunnison, just before Gould Reservoir, is a whole hillside on the right of serviceberry -- a delight to see!



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Current crane count is 12,453.

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Evelyn Horn, Plants of the Western Slope
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