Snowy Mespilus

A small and beautiful tree!  Mine has been stunning this spring, covered with white flowers with five petals.  At the same time the young leaves unfurl, a mass of copper-pink among the white.  Glorious!

Now the petals have fallen like spring snow and the leaves have turned light green.  The fruits are already forming and will soon be ripe – the tree is also called June Berry.  The berries are small, red or purple.  They’re edible but I leave mine for the local wildlife, especially birds that busy themselves among the foliage, gorging on this bounty.  The only downside is the mess from the droppings!

In autumn the leaves turn scarlet and crimson before they fall.  The bare tree has a fine shrubby outline, still a joy to look at during the winter.  It’s a delightful tree for a small garden, easy to grow, reaching up to 10 or 12 metres in 20 years.  According to the pundits it prefers moist, welldrained, non- alkaline soils.  Well, mine grows magnificently on my very dry neutral to alkaline soil, so there! Under it I grow spring bulbs, aconites, small-leafed periwinkles, little Euphorbias and lily of the valley, so the ground always looks green and cheerful.

Its common name, Snowy Mespilus comes from the Latin name for the medlar, once a very popular fruit tree. Its Latin name is Amelanchier, and it’s in the Rose family.   It’s very hardy, and has coped well with the sudden late frosts and snow this spring. There are a number of species, some are trees and others shrubby.  It hails from North America where it’s also called Service Berry, Wild Pear or Plum and Shadbush.  Shads are wild herring found in New England rivers, and the tree flowers in spring when the fish run, so accounting for the name.

All in all, an asset to any garden.

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