Plant of the Week: Allegheny serviceberry

Though often celebrated for its spring flowers and edible summer berries, Amelanchier laevis also boasts brilliant fall color. The High Line's collection of Allegheny serviceberry trees (a common nickname) is currently at its peak color and compliment the yellowing foliage of the birch trees.

Photo by Timothy Schenck
Amelanchier laevis is truly a specimen with four seasons of interest. In the dead of winter, visitors often comment on the pleasant structure of the multi-stemmed trunk. The gray bark is another noteworthy winter characteristic. Amelanchiers are in the Rose family (Rosaceae), and this is particularly apparent through the flowers. The delicate white flowers arrive in April, before the foliage leafs out. In June, small, round, red berries that ripen to dark purple arrive after the canopy of obovate-shaped leaves fully develops. The berries are edible for both wildlife and humans.

Photo by Timothy Schenck
Amelanchier laevis is native to eastern North America, and is hardy in zones 4 to 8. It is an understory tree, and stays small, reaching heights between 15 and 25 feet. Some sources recommend its use as a street tree, as it will stay well below power lines at this height. It prefers moist, well-drained soils, and survives in part-sun to full shade. Our gardeners remark that planting these trees in partial sun enhances fall color. Given the right conditions, Amelanchier laevis is a wonderful native option that provides varied interest throughout the year.


Choose a site that satisfies the serviceberry's preferences: part sun or shade, and moist, well-drained soil. Many sources recommend interplanting with evergreens, for the contrast of color in the fall. It is intolerant of salt and drought, two things to keep in mind when planting in New York City.


Amelanchier laevis can be seen on the High Line between Gansevoort and West 13th Street, between West 20th and West 22nd Streets, and between West 25th and West 27th Streets.

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

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.

TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.

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