Herb: Downy Serviceberry

Latin name: Amelanchier arborea

Synonyms: Amelanchier canadensis, Mespilus arborea

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Medicinal use of Downy Serviceberry:

A compound infusion of the plant has been used as an anthelmintic, in the treatment of diarrhoea and as a spring tonic. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of gonorrhoea.

Description of the plant:


10 m
(33 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Rich woods, thickets and slopes.

Edible parts of Downy Serviceberry:

Edible fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit has a few small seeds at the centre, some forms are dry and tasteless whilst others are sweet and juicy. The fruit ripens unevenly over a period of 2 - 3 weeks and is very attractive to birds, this makes harvesting them in quantity rather difficult. The fruit is borne in small clusters and is up to 10mm in diameter. It is rich in iron and copper.

Other uses of the herb:

The trees have an extensive root system and can be planted on banks etc for erosion control. Wood - close-grained, hard, strong, tough and elastic. It is one of the heaviest woods in N. America, weighing 49lb per cubic foot. Too small for commercial interest, it is sometimes used for making handles.

Propagation of Downy Serviceberry:

Seed - it is best harvested "green", when the seed is fully formed but before the seed coat has hardened, and then sown immediately in pots outdoors or in a cold frame. If stored seed is obtained early enough in the autumn, it can be given 4 weeks warm stratification before being left out in the winter and it should then germinate in the spring. Otherwise seed can be very slow to germinate, perhaps taking 18 months or more. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a sheltered outdoor position, planting them out once they are 20cm or more tall. If there is sufficient seed it is best to sow it thinly in an outdoor seedbed. Grow the seedlings on for two years in the seedbed before planting them out into their permanent positions during the winter. Layering in spring - takes 18 months. Division of suckers in late winter. The suckers need to have been growing for 2 years before you dig them up, otherwise they will not have formed roots. They can be planted out straight into their permanent positions if required.

Cultivation of the herb:

Rich woods, thickets and slopes.

Known hazards of Amelanchier arborea:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.