A. lamarckii is an attractive tree of horticultural interest with showy flowers and fruit; the latter are also edible. It exhibits good autumn colour and provides year-round interest. The species is probably native to North America, and has...
A. lamarckii is an attractive tree of horticultural interest with showy flowers and fruit; the latter are also edible. It exhibits good autumn colour and provides year-round interest. The species is probably native to North America, and has been introduced to Europe where it has been grown in gardens and has become naturalized on light acid soils. A. lamarckii is listed on NOBANIS – the European Network on Invasive Alien Species - as potentially invasive in a number of European countries.
There are considered to be 25 species of Amelanchier, nearly all found in North America, with one species originating in Europe (Amelanchier ovalis) and one species originating in East Asia (Amelanchier asiatica). A key to the genus Amelanchier can be found in Krüssmann (1984).
The taxonomy and distribution of the genus Amelanchier in Europe has remained confused. Schroeder (1970) attempted to clarify the situation on his paper ‘Amelanchier – Atern als Neophyten in Europe’, written in German, which he summarized in English.
Clapham et al. (1987) suggest that the British A. lamarckii appears to be a complex hybrid that probably arose in cultivation, combining features of Amelanchier laevis, Amelanchier canadensis and Amelanchier arborea. However, Schroeder (1970) does not accept that the hybrids have arisen in European gardens and instead proposes that A. lamarckii, along with Amelanchier confusa and Amelanchier spicata, are undoubtedly of North American origin. However, rather than being known as distinct species in North America they are instead considered as microspecies.
Amelanchier is a genus of deciduous shrubs and small trees. Clapham et al. (1981) describe A. lamarckii as follows:
“Flowers in racemes. Shrub or small tree to 12 m, with simple broadly elliptic finely serrate leaves 3-7 cm, coppery red when young, and a slender spreading or drooping inflorescence of many flowers with white linear-oblong petals 1.5-2 cm; carpels 5; fruits small, globose, blackish purple”.
Native to eastern Canada and is presumed to have been brought over to France in the second half of the nineteenth century and disseminated from there. Along with Amelanchier laevis, A. lamarckii is one of the most frequently found species in northern European nurseries and gardens due to its glorious red autumn colours (Krüssmann, 1984). It has become naturalized in Europe especially where acid soils prevail, as in southeast England (Schroeder, 1970). A detailed key to the naturalized European species A. lamarckii, Amelanchier confusa and Amelanchier spicata can be found in Schroeder (1970).
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
Grown in gardens and has become naturalized on light acid soils (Clapham et al., 1987). In the UK, it is restricted to acid, mostly sandy soils of rather variable water content, belonging to the Querco-Betuletum vegetation type (Schroeder, 1970). It is found in both mixed conifer/broadleaf and broadleaf forests, urban areas and wetlands (NOBANIS, 2009).
Although the species is generally pest free (RHS, 2009), fire blight caused by Erwinia amylovora has been reported on serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.) (Van der Zwet and Keil, 1979 in Momol and Aldwinckle, 2000).
Amelanchier is easily cultivated and very hardy. A. lamarckii has flowers that are showy, but short lived; however, the foliage gives good autumn colour (Chittenden, 1956).
The berries ripen in June hence the common name Juneberry and resemble blueberries in colour, size and taste (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009). They are used in jams, jellies and pies.
The berries are also a major attraction for birds, including the blackbird, fieldfare, greenfinch, mistlethrush, red wing and song thrush. Crops of soft fruit can be protected from birds by planting A. lamarckii alongside to give the birds something else to feed on (Natural England, 2009).
A. lamarckii is often confused with Amelanchier laevis. The foliage is fully open and glabrous at flowering time in the latter, which also flowers 1-2 weeks earlier than A. lamarckii (Krüssmann, 1984).
A detailed key to the naturalized European species A. lamarckii, Amelanchier confusa and Amelanchier spicata can be found in Schroeder (1970). See also the datasheet on A. spicata in this Compendium.