Latin for Gardeners: May 2018

Alison Milligan, Class 7 Master Watershed Steward, writes monthly articles about natives to share with Master Gardeners. When she first started "Latin for Gardeners" two years ago, Alison wanted to encourage people to learn the Latin names of natives so they could request the right plant when out shopping. Thank you, Alison, for sharing your knowledge with us!

May’s Native Maryland Plant
Amelanchier canadensis (L.) Medik.
(am-meh-LANG-kee-er kan-uh-DEN-sis) 
Common Name: Serviceberry, Shadbush


Each year I anxiously await the blooming of the Amelanchier canadensis in my garden – when it blooms I know spring is finally here. The delicate, pure white, 5-petaled, slightly fragrant flowers attract early pollinators and appear before the oblong, finely-toothed leaves.  In mid-summer the blooms will be replaced with delicious berries that birds and squirrels will vie over.  Shadbush is the common name because Amelanchier canadensis flowering coincides with the annual migration of shad in New England rivers.
As you look out at Maryland’s landscape this month, within your neighborhood and along the highways, you’ll see the very invasive Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana) - also blooming white. However, if you’re lucky and you look with a discerning eye you might spot an Amelanchier canadensis. This lovely native tree has three-season interest and plays an important role in providing nectar and pollen for early spring pollinators.  If you have a moist-wet area with partial-shade this is a nice understory tree.  You’ll enjoy the early blooms and you won’t be able to ignore the myriad of birds that come for the berries in June.


NOTE: Callery pear was introduced as an ornamental in 1964 and has since invaded North America and Canada, outcompeting native plants and trees.

~ Alison Milligan – MG 2013