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Montana Field Guides

Saskatoon Serviceberry - Amelanchier alnifolia
Other Names:  Amelanchier pumila

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 4

External Links

General Description
PLANTS: Shrubs with smooth, reddish bark that becomes gray with age, 1-4 meters tall (Lesica et al. 2012).

LEAVES: 2-5 cm long and petiolate. Leaf blades are ovate to broadly elliptic, rounded to blunt at tips, and dentate (sharp, spreading, and coarse teeth) on their upper margins (Lesica et al. 2012). Blades are sparsely puberulent and glaucous beneath.

INFLORESCENCE: Raceme of 5 to 15 white-petaled flowers.

Based on herbarium specimens (at least) three varieties have been reported for Montana: alnifolia, pumila, and semiintegrifolia. In the Manual of Montana Vascular Plants (2012), author Peter Lesica concluded that the characteristics for these varieties vary continuously and sometimes within the same population.

The Amelanchier treatment by authors Campbell, Burgess, Cushman, Doucette, Dibble, and Frye in the Flora of North America (FNA), Volume 9 (2014) has accepted these three varieties for Amelanchier alnifolia. According to their varietal definitions, their treatment states that only variety alnifolia occurs in Montana.

Currently, the MTNHP is not tracking these varieties in their database.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The Amelanchier treatment by authors Campbell, Burgess, Cushman, Doucette, Dibble, and Frye in the FNA, Volume 9 (2014) concludes that identification of taxa is difficult because Amelanchier has relatively few taxonomically informative morphologic characters, and some of the morphologically useful ones still possess variability. Some characteristics vary within individuals, across populations that exhibit different habits, and across geographies. In addition some Amelanchier taxa have not genetically diverged from one another and some taxa hybridize. Many of our native Amelanchier, including A. alnifolia, are used in horticulture, which creates cultivars. People who have studied this group also differ in their opinions, and the literature includes numerous taxa names at species, variety, and other levels. Amelanchier alnifolia is widespread and polymorphic. As for Amelanchier alnifolia, the MTNHP database retains the name reported by an observer, but we currently track this plant only at the species level. Identification information at the variety level can be found in FNA (2014) through the book or on-line format.

Species Range
Montana Range


Range Comments
AK to QC, south to CA, AZ, NM and MN (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 5304

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Moist to dry forest, grasslands, meadows, woodlands, avalanche slopes; plains, valleys to lower subalpine (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Reproductive Characteristics
Flowers: hypanthium 2–3 mm long; sepals reflexed, 2–5 mm long; white petals 8–18 mm long; styles 4 to 5, united below. Pome 5–10 mm long, about 10-seeded, edible (Lesica et al. 2012).

Amelanchier alnifolia is thought to hybridize with Sorbus scopulina (xAmelasorbus jackii Rehder) (FNA 2014).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Conway, T.M. 1982. Response of understory vegetation to varied lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) spacing intervals in Western Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bpzeman, MT: Montana State University. 76 p.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. (FNA). 2014. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 9. Magnoliophyta: Picramniaceae to Rosaceae. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc. 752 pp.
    • Guenther, G.E. 1989. Ecological relationships of bitterbrush communities on the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 73 p.
    • Holeckek, J.L. 1976. Initial effects of different species treatments and fertilizer rates on a mine spoils rehabilitation. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 91 p.
    • Johnson, T. W. 1982. An analysis of pack and saddle stock grazing areas in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. M.Sc.Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 105 p.
    • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
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Citation for data on this website:
Saskatoon Serviceberry — Amelanchier alnifolia.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from