Week of April 19, 2016 - Shadblow

Monday, April 18, 2016 8:33 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Shadblow (Amelanchier canadensis)

This small tree in the Rose family (Rosaceae) blooms when the shad are running in the Hudson River, in late April.  Thus its common names shadblow, shad bush, and shadberry, as well as service berry.  Some sources claim it is called shadberry because it fruits/berries when the shad are running, in June. But the DEC sides with my experience; that the shad run in April. Here is a quote from their website – What’s Happening on the Hudson River in April – “Yellow forsythia and pinkish-white magnolia [which bloom the same time as the shadblow] are in resplendent beauty; their blooming a pretty reliable bio-indicator of the arrival of shad and herring spawning runs in the Hudson.”

Shadblow is a common understory tree of the northeast woodlands, though it is reasonably rare in my neck of the woods. It blooms just before the wild cherries and looks a lot like them from a distance, so it often overlooked. It is a small tree, rarely growing more than fifty feet tall, and, like witch hazel, it often has multiple “trunks.”

Shad are a delicious fish found from Labrador to Florida. Like salmon, they hatch in fresh water, swim to the ocean, where they live for 3-6 years, and come back to the stream of their birth to spawn and then die.   

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