Ozarks Flowering Tree: Downy Serviceberry

Picture of Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea, a native white-flowering tree in the Ozarks. Picture taken at Bell Mountain Wilderness in Missouri

Flowers of Downy Serviceberry are a common sight in the gray, leafless forests of early spring in the Ozarks.


In the very early spring, before the leaves begin to show on any trees of the forest, you will see trees in the forest understory covered with white flowers. Some might think these are a fruit tree like a plum or perhaps even a dogwood. But no. If you get a chance, take a look at the flowers up close.

Up close flower blossom of Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea, a white flowering native tree in the Missouri Ozarks.

I love how the flower clusters of Downy Serviceberry have thin and strippy petals.

The flowers of the Serviceberry, also known as the Shadbush, are sort of shaggy and ragged looking, with petals that hang down a bit. The flower clusters are a couple inches across and pure white. The overall look of the tree in the bare gray forest is one of drifts of white, almost like clouds. When the sun breaks through and shines on the tree, it can be quite spectacular.

Picture of a Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea, tree in the Bell Mountain Wilderness in Missouri in early spring.

See how the flowers of the Downy Serviceberry Tree create drifts of white in the gray forest of early spring. Picture taken at Bell Mountain Wilderness in March 2012.

The tree makes tasty berries that the birds always get to first, but if you’re lucky you can get enough to make a pie or jam. The old time locals refer to this as “Sarviss Berry”, and in fact that’s the first name I ever knew for it.

Read about it here on the MDC site and there is another good article Virginia Tech. Dendrology.

What do you think?