Plant of the Week: Allegheny Serviceberry

The High Line's planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line's rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.

East Coast dwellers may know them as Shadbush, while those from the prairies of Canada might refer to them as Saskatoons. They've also been labelled as Juneberries, sugar plums, and mountain blueberries. No matter what you call them, the shrubs and small trees within the genus Amelanchier are a delight for all seasons.

Much lore surrounds the Serviceberry's common name. One somewhat morbid explanation is that the flowers emerged right around the time that the ground had thawed enough to perform burial services for those who died over the winter. A more plausible explanation is that the fruit resembled that of the European Sorbus tree (Sorbus domestica), and the 'service' in Serviceberry is a corruption of this word.

Allegheny Serviceberry is a Northeast native that does well in sun to part-shade, and prefers moist, well-drained soil. It starts off the spring in a flurry of white blossoms, and transitions into summer by bearing deep purple fruit known as pomes. For its grand finale, the oval-shaped leaves turn a fiery orange as autumn sets in.

The edible pomes are favorites of humans and wildlife alike, and have been used in everything from pemmican to pie filling. Their delicate nature, and susceptibility to diseases such as cedar apple rust, prevents them from being cultivated for their fruit on a large scale. All the more reason to plant your own, and enjoy its delicious bounty!


On the High Line between Gansevoort Street and 13th Street; at 18th Street; and between 25th and 27th Streets.

Download our April bloom list.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects – become a member of the High Line today!

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