Serviceberry trees vary in size. Most cultivated trees grow between 6 and 30 feet tall with a 4- to 10-foot spread. They have tan or grayish bark, clumping or oval forms and alternating leaves with straight veins, pointed tips and serrated edges. Some varieties have single trunks, while others have more than one trunk. The leaves usually grow between 1 1/4 and 3 1/4 inches long and change to red, orange or yellow in autumn. The trees yield drooping clusters of white blossoms in spring before the foliage emerges. Clusters of small, round, edible fruits replace the blossoms.
Amelanchier canadensis or shadblow serviceberry grows in swampy land across the East Coast of the United States. It reaches heights between 6 and 20 feet. This species has an open crown, multiple trunks and blooms in late March. Amelanchier arborea or downy serviceberry grows between 10 and 25 feet tall with a 10- to 15-foot spread. It has a rounded crown, ash-gray bark and a shrubby form. Amelanchier laevis or Alleghany serviceberry grows between 15 and 25 feet tall and produces red, black or purple fruit.
Serviceberry trees vary in their cold hardiness depending on the species. Shadblows thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 7, while downy and Allegheny trees grow best in zones 4 through 9. They propagate by stem cuttings or seeds. Most serviceberries can adapt to a wide range of environments; they tolerate heavy shade or full sunlight and thrive in either nutrient-rich or nutrient-poor soils. They prefer well-drained, fertile acidic soils and partial sunlight, however, and do not grow in continually soggy ground.
Serviceberry trees are members of the rose family. Many of the same problems that affect roses also damage serviceberries. Insect and arthropod pests such as aphids and spider mites feed on sap from the foliage, while Japanese beetles and pear sawflies feed on the foliage. Powdery mildew creates a white fungal growth on the leaves. Entomosporium leaf spot creates spots on leaves and may result in leaf loss, while cedar-serviceberry rust disfigures the twigs and foliage.