©The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
August 2005, Jan 2013, Feb 2013, June 2014

Amelanchier alnifolia
var. semiintegrifolia
Marble Mts., Wilderness, CA
forest margin, Jeffrey pine forest,
meadow near One Mile Lake
July 2004

Amelanchier alnifolia var. cusickii

S Idaho, June 2005


Amelanchier alnifolia var. pumila

Near Kanab, Arizona
May 2008


Idaho: North-central, Clearwater Natl. For., Eldorado Creek near jct. with Dollar Creek, 46º17.964, 115º38.776, elev. 3,540 ft, wetland prairie with dominant Veratrum californicum surrounded by  forest of Englemann spruce, grand fir, western red cedar, lodgepole pine, western larch. 26 July 2011

Amelanchier utahensis var. utahensis

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Photo by Susan Spjut, 14 May 2008



Amelanchier utahensis var. utahensis

Zion National Park, Utah
23 May 2008


Amelanchier utahensis var. utahensis

Southwestern Utah, July 2008, S & B 16739

Amelanchier utahensis var. covillei

Clark Co. Nevada, May 2002
S&M 14730

Amelanchier utahensis var. ?

CNPS field trip, Tejon Ranch Conservancy,
30 Jun 2012.. Mostly glabrous, leaves curled.



Trees and Shrubs of Kern County Dec 2012)

Amelanchier.  Deciduous shrubs or trees; leaves simple, alternate, often crowded on short spur shoots, generally toothed along margins in upper half, pinnately veined; flowers in racemes, with a floral cup (hypanthium);  sepals short to long triangular, persistent, erect, spreading to reflexed; petals usually spoon shaped, white or rarely pink; stamens 10–20 inserted along the rim of the cup; ovary single, inferior, 2–5 locular but locules partially partitioned up to 10 chambered; fruit similar to an apple (pome) but smaller, purplish black to brown or reddish, endocarp cartilaginous.

      A genus of perhaps 12 species in North America; the species not clearly defined. Wilken (JM1) and Campbell (JM2) recognized two species in California as also N. H. Holmgren for the Intermountain Flora (IMF, Cronquist et al. 1997), and Hitchcock for the Pacific Northwest Flora [PNW (Hitchcock et al. 1961)], A. alnifolia and A. utahensis.  However, the key characters for separating the species differ.  Campbell's (JM2) treatment, similar to that of Hitchcock  (PNW), emphasized the persistence of leaf hairs at maturity—when plants are in fruit. Holmgren (IMF) employed leaf size (1–3 cm. vs. 2–6 cm), number and separation of styles (2–5 vs. 4–5, distinct to base vs. united halfway), and fruit color and texture (purple vs. orange, yellow or white; fleshy vs. mealy). Wilken (JM1) applied number of styles (2–4 vs. 5) and persistence of leaf hairs.  Plants with permanently hairy leaves are generally referred to A. utahensis

     In California two varieties of A. alnifolia are distinguished based on whether the ovary is hairy at top—var. semiintegrifolia C. L. Hitchcock (widely distributed), or not hairy—var. pumila (Torrey & A. Gray) C. K. Schneider (northern & central Sierra Nevada). The typical variety (var. alnifolia), which is generally recognized to have 5 styles arising from a hairy ovary (on top), occurs outside California, from Oregon to Alaska, and east to Nebraska (type from near [west of] Fort Mandan ND [image of type (in part),, Missouri Botanical Garden, 02 Jul 2012 (

      Specimens from the Tehachapi Mts. have character traits of both species. As noted by Jepson (1925), differences in the pubescence of leaves, which are often applied to differentiate species, do not always correspond with other character features. A specimen collected from the Tehachapi Mts. on the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, for example, has 2–4 styles united only half way; this keys to A. alnifolia based on partially united styles and to A. utahensis based on number of styles (IMF), or it keys to A. utahensis based on leaves losing their hair at maturity, or to A. alnifolia var. semiintegrifolia based on the hairy ovary. Specimens in the CCH  from the Tehachapi Mts. have been identified A. alnifolia var. pumila, A. alnifolia, A. utahensis, and A. pallida Greene.  The latter species has been distinguished from A. utahensis by having fewer pairs of lateral leaf veins, wider petals (Munz & Keck 1959), and subentire leaf margins (IMF). 

     Tentatively, the species in Kern County are differentiated below by character features of flower arrangement (inflorescences), and by fruit color and fleshiness (IMF). 

     Of ~32 different CCH specimens from Kern Co., three were listed as belonging to A. alnifolia, two from Tehachapi Mts. (near Liebre Twins, A. D. Gifford, 7 May 1935; Cottonwood Creek, A. Simontacchi, 22 May 1935), and one from the Kern Plateau (A. alnifolia var. pumila, along trail 34E19 north of Cane Meadow toward True Meadow, Shevock, 25 Jun 1982).  Most appear to have been collected in flower. The few that indicate fruit do not mention fruit color.  Thus, Amelanchier in Kern Co. is mostly A. utahensis. In JM2, A. alnifolia var. pumila is not recognized south of the Central Sierra Nevada; it was reported by Munz and Keck to occur from Nevada to Eldorado Cos.

Key to Amelanchier  

Flowers/fruits almost in fascicles, spreading from scapes in close
flat-topped (corymbose) arrangements; fruits reddish orange
to yellowish orange, with or without purplish tinge, mealy,
often with erect to spreading sepals.......... ........... ......... Amelanchier utahensis

Flowers/ fruits ascending alternately along scapes  (racemose);
fruit purplish and fleshy at maturity, often with sepals strongly
recurved, or collapsed on the fruit .................................. Amelanchier alnifolia

Amelanchier alnifolia (Aronia alnifolia Nuttall 1818) Nuttall ex Roemer 1847 var. pumila (A. pumila Nuttall ex Torrey  & A. Gray 1840 in synonymy) A. Nelson 1909. Saskatoon Service berry.  Shrubs 1–3 m high, without hairs, bark reddish brown, graying with age, leaves round, truncated to apex, or with a notched apex, (1.0-) 1.5–3 cm(-5.0) , with 7–9 pairs of lateral veins, coarsely toothed to mid region, on petioles shorter than blade' flowers May to Jun, 4–8 in racemes 2–4 cm long, sepals sword-shaped, 3 mm long; petals white, slightly spoon-shaped, 8–12 mm long; stamens 12–15; ovary lacking hairs, styles mostly 5, united at base; fruits dark purple, depressed globose at maturity, 8–9 mm; seeds brown.  Damp places in open scrub, red fir and lodgepole pine forests, 1,400–2,600 m, Sierra Nevada in California, to Montana and Colorado.

Amelanchier utahensis Koehne 1890 (A. alnifolia var. utahensis M. E. Jones 1895). Includes Amelanchier pallida Greene 1891 (A. alnifolia var. pallida Jepson 1925).  Type from "Bellevue", Washington Co., UT.  Utah Service berry.  Usually a tall shrub or tree with one to many erect stems from the base, to 8 m high; branches long and somewhat stiff; leaves deciduous; broad elliptical, 1–2 × longer than wide, serrate along the margins in the upper half; 1.5–5 cm, flowers Apr–May, white, conspicuous, 3–6 on a scape; petals strap-like, 6–11 mm; styles 2–4, distinct to the base, or united half way [in Kern Co.]; fruit pear-shaped to globose, reddish, 5–10 mm, orange, yellow or white with or without a purplish tinge, not fleshy.  Widely distributed in the montane forests and high desert ravines in the western states to Mexico. Kern Co.: “Scattered colonies” “along Catskin Creek near its head in the Tehachapi Mountains, on the ridges east of Keene,” or in thickets such as in Water Canyon, Douglas oak woodland at the north base of Tehachapi Peak; “occasional in the Greenhorn Range” (Twisselmann). A specimen with bright pink flowers was reported to occur in a damp ravine two miles west of Cedar Creek along the Glennville Highway (Twisselmann).   

USDA ARS Archival Records of Recollected Samples of Antitumor Active Amelanchier Species for the National Cancer Institute, 1980–1982

Amelanchier denticulata

Amelanchier laevis

Amelanchier sanguinea

Amelanchier spicata