Trees and shrubs add interest and color to any yard or garden. Many home gardeners wish to add trees that are unusual and produce small, cherry-like fruit. The Barbados cherry, the serviceberry and the flowering crabapple are three trees that bear edible fruit and produce lovely green foliage.
A fruit-bearing tree that has high ornamental value, the serviceberry is a hardy, medium sized shrub that is best known for its delicious red or purple fruit. Also known as Saskatoon or Juneberry, this shrub is also used for windbreaks and attracts a variety of birds and wildlife. Serviceberry typically reaches heights of 6 to 15 feet and widths of 5 to 12 feet. The bark of this shrub is light brown to gray and its root system is fairly shallow. Serviceberry produces berry-like fruits that are red to purple in color, along with lovely white flowers. The Barbados cherry is a member of the Malpighiaceae family and is also known as garden cherry, native cherry, French cherry and Wild Indian cherry. This large, bushy shrub produces a cherry-like fruit that is bright red to orange in color. Barbados cherry thrives in tropical and sub-tropical conditions and is fairly tolerant of drought. This tree reaches heights of up to 20 feet and has drooping branches and a short trunk. Flowering crabapple trees produce edible fruit and have lovely blossoms that appear in the spring. Like apple trees, flowering crabapples are members of the Malus species and are medium-sized trees grown for their fruit and their ornamental value.
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Several serviceberry cultivars are excellent for the home gardener. According to Iowa State University, a few excellent cultivars for home growth include Strata, Autumn Brilliance and Cumulus Princess Diana. Larger fruit-bearing cultivars include Success Juneberry, Smokey Juneberry and Honeywood Juneberry. Barbados cherry is also available in several cultivars. The Florida Sweet is known for its large, thick-skinned fruits, sweet flavor and high fruit yield. Another cultivar known as B-15 is known to produce large fruit and has a high yield. Flowering crabapple varieties include Radiant, Thunderchild, Brandywine, Indian Summer, Red Jewel, Royalty and Spring Snow. According to Colorado State University, there are more than 1,000 varieties of flowering crabapples, which have varying sizes, fruit size and flower color.
Serviceberry fruit is prized for its taste and is often used in jams, jellies and desserts. Fruit is ripe in June and changes colors at it matures. Serviceberries must have moisture to produce high fruit yields. Barbados cherry fruit is often placed in desserts and is best when fully ripe. Harvest the fruit from this tree a bit early if freezing or preserving it. Immature fruit is yellow in color and turns to red when fully ripe. Flowering crabapple produce fruit which are borne in the summer and fall. According to Ohio State University, fruits measuring up to 2 inches in diameter are considered crabapples. Fruits larger than 2 inches in diameter are apples. Crabapples may be spiced and eaten in fruit salads, or they may be used in jams and jellies.
Serviceberry trees grow best in well-drained, moist soils and thrive in full sun or partial shade. Trees growing in full sun have the highest fruit yield and the most attractive fall color. Serviceberries have few insect pests but often lose fruit due to late frosts. Barbados cherries are relatively low-maintenance, thriving in moist, well-drained soil. Young trees must have irrigation to produce high quality fruit. This tree requires regular pruning to bear the highest amount of fruit. Barbados cherry is susceptible to damage from root knot nematodes. Scale insects, whiteflies and aphids all attack this tree, as well. Flowering crabapples produce the most fruit when planted in full sun but will tolerate some shade. After establishment, crabapples are drought-tolerant and strong-wooded. A few diseases occur in crabapples, including fireblight, powdery mildew, rust and apple scab. Chlorosis is a condition that occurs in crabapples and causes yellowing of foliage. Spider mites, boring insects and aphids all infest crabapples.
- Iowa State University; Large Shrubs Or Small Trees For The Home Landscape; Richard Jauron; May 2003
- NDSU: Juneberry or Saskatoon Serviceberry
- Purdue University; Barbados Cherry; Julia F. Morton; 1987
- Colorado State University; Flowering Crabapple Trees; J. Klett; R. Cox; February 2008
- Ohio State University; Selection Care And Use Of The Ornamental Crabapple; Erik Draper; James Chatfield