1252 Amelanchier x lamarckiiCommon Names: juneberry,snowy mespilus Family: Rosaceae (rose Family)
Juneberry is a shrub or small tree that can get as much as 30 ft (10 m) tall and has a graceful, wide spreading shape with numerous upright stems that can form a bush about the same distance across. Most specimens are smaller, though. The leaves, elliptic and around 3 in (8 cm) long, start out a rich coppery red, then turn dark shiny green in summer and ultimately become bright orange and red in fall before dropping in winter. In mid-spring Juneberry blooms with an abundance of white star shaped flowers borne in hanging clusters consisting of six to ten flowers. The flowers are fragrant, but not strongly so. The edible fruits are pomes that resemble little berries, about 3/8 in (1 cm) in diameter, red when young and turning a shiny blue-black when ripe.
Juneberry is quite similar to Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis), but can be distinguished by the fact that its young stems and leaves are clothed in silky hairs whereas those of Allegheny serviceberry are smooth.
The cultivar, ‘Rubescens’ sometimes is listed under Amelanchier x lamarckii, but probably should be listed under Amelanchier x grandiflora.
Amelanchier x lamarckii is believed to have resulted from natural hybridization between Allegheny serviceberry (A. laevis) and shadbush (A. canadensis), or possibly between Allegheny serviceberry and apple serviceberry (A. x grandiflora), the later a hybrid itself between Allegheny serviceberry and downy serviceberry (A. arborea). The miscegenation probably occurred in eastern North America where all three species occur in the wild and natural hybridization is well known. Juneberry has been widely adopted by European gardeners and for decades has been a common cultivated shrub in England, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries in western Europe. (Snowy mespilus is the name used in England.) Only after its immensely favorable acceptance in Europe, did Juneberry come back home to eastern North America where it has now become a popular landscape plant here as well. Juneberry has escaped cultivation and become established in England, continental Europe and parts of eastern North America.
An alternative theory of Juneberry’s origin is that it arose as an apomictic (see FEATURES, below) form of Amelanchier laevis or of the hybrid species A. x grandiflora rather than being a hybrid species itself. If this is the case, then the correct scientific name would be Amelanchier lamarckii (without the “x”, which denotes a hybrid species).
Light: Grow Juneberry in full sun to partial shade. It should get afternoon respite from full sun in the warmer parts of its useful range. Moisture: Juneberry likes an acidic, moist but well drained soil. It tolerates brief periods of waterlogged soils and brief periods of drought. Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 - 8 . Propagation: Juneberry can be propagated from seeds which always come true to type. Seeds that have been stored should be treated to cold stratification (41° F (5° C) for about 100 days) for best results. New plants also can be started from cuttings of young, fast growing stem tips.
Juneberry is an ideal specimen shrub and is especially outstanding in small groupings. Position these handsome shrubs in naturalistic drifts within partly shady landscapes. This easy-to-grow deciduous shrub offers year-round interest. In springtime the beautiful white flowers are a striking contrast to the unfolding bronze colored leaves. Handsome are the dark red berries in summer that turn shiny blue-black later in the year. The fiery red and orange fall color is almost unmatched. Even in winter the spreading form of fine shoots and branches is pleasing to the eye. Juneberry does not enjoy salty conditions, but it does tolerate urban climates, air pollution, windy situations, and extended dry periods.
The attractive berry-like pomes are said to be delicious, sweet, juicy and resembling apples in taste. They are used in pies, jams, jellies and for fresh eating. Honeybees frequent the flowers and birds devour the fruits.
The Royal Horticultural Society of England has awarded Juneberry (aka snowy mespilus) its prestigious Award of Garden Merit.
Juneberry reproduces by apomixis, which is asexual reproduction by seeds that have developed without fertilization. Thus the entire species is a clone: All individuals are identical and share the same genes. (In animals, this type of reproduction is called parthenogenesis.) Other kinds of asexual reproduction, such as from cuttings, layering or root sprouts, also produce genetically identical progeny, but are, by definition, not considered apomixis.
Mespilus germanica, the medlar, is a similar looking European tree also in the Rose family, and the British namesake for snowy mespilus.
Steve Christman 2/10/16