The Humble Sarvisberry

In Spring around here, everyone looks for that first peek of white in the woods. Newbies to the area always think it is the dogwood they see, but they are wrong.
The first white is the sarvisberry. Their fluffy white tufts of flowers on the bare limbs signal the beginning of spring.
The berries grow best in wet, shaded condition at the edge of woods or in open forest areas.

After a rough winter, or even a fairly mild one, we look with great eagerness for that first white showing in the woods. You look and look and then, one morning
you see it. A bare showing of white, maybe just a sliver. You blink and look again, and yep. It’s there. You know that spring is on its way.
The next day you pass the woods on your way to town, and there are clouds scattered in the woods.

The sarvisberry has arrived.

In the south we call them sarvisberry. I mean southern Missouri for sure. I never knew any other name for them until I looked them up and found they not only had other names,shadlow, shadbush, downy serviceberry, wild pear and Juneberry, but they could also be found at your local plant nursery. I had always seen them in the woods.
The berries come on after the blooms are gone and the green leaves are popping out. As the leaves grow, so do the berries.

They turn a deep red than purple as they ripen. If you want them, you need to be quick as the birds love them, too. And they have better access. The berries taste like blueberries and look a little like cranberries. Thay have an almost dry, grainy texture and a mild sweet flavor, which makes them perfect to put in a pie, eat them raw, makes juice of them and then jelly or jam.

The bushes grow from four feet for the uncommon running serviceberry to a maximum of 60 feet for the downy serviceberry.

The white clouds have appeared in the woods across from my house. Spring has sprung, and the dogwood will soon be seen.


6 thoughts on “The Humble Sarvisberry

  1. I love finding signs of spring. I’ve never seen a sarvisberry, not to my knowledge anyway. When we were in Tennessee a couple weeks ago, the redbud trees and forsythia were just starting to bud. I miss dogwood trees so much! Nice description… I could almost see the woods through your eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We have service berries, but I can’t bring myself to eat them. I leave them for my feathered friends, who allow me the opportunity to practice photography. You are so right though–when they finally bloom, spring is here. Alas, it will be a few weeks yet for us!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “… there are clouds scattered in the woods.”

    How beautiful! Here in rainy western Oregon, the signs of spring are especially encouraging. One day the sun will come out, like the song says. We do become weary of cloudy skies.

    Thanks for sharing your precious signs of spring. We love to see winter flee.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had never heard of such a thing and was so excited, being a sucker for anything new I can learn. This piece was beautiful and reminded me of Wind in the Willows. I don’t know why, but probably because it was beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mmmmm…you had me at berry! I’m a sucker for berries, even for unfamiliar ones, which I would happily try at the behest of trustworthy friends. 🙂 Your descriptions are gorgeous. My favorite line: “The next day you pass the woods on your way to town, and there are clouds scattered in the woods.” Clouds scattered in the woods! Yes!


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