Hi. I have a serviceberry tree and it has always been a bountiful feast for birds in the spring. However this year there are virtually no berries on the tree. Any idea? Not sure if the pale lead colour is an indication but I’ve uploaded a pic. Thanks
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners about your serviceberry tree (Amelanchier spp.). It looks like there could be a couple of things going on here. First regarding the very small crop of berries that you have seen this year, there are several possible reasons for this. Serviceberries require full sun to produce the best crop – has something changed so that your tree is now getting less sun than previously? Fluctuating temperatures in late winter and early spring could also have killed off buds and flowers. Did your tree flower this year? I think the most likely cause for few berries could be that serviceberry plants are prone to biennial bearing, meaning there is a large crop one year followed by a very small crop the next year. This is not uncommon in fruit trees, and it doesn’t always follow a regular pattern, but if this is the cause then your berries (and the birds!) should be back next year.
Regarding the appearance of the leaves on your tree, I think this is leaf spot, specifically Entomosporium leaf and berry spot. This is one of the most common diseases of serviceberry and is caused by the fungus Entomosporium. It can cause premature leaf drop and disfigure the tree, but most trees tolerate this disease with little damage. To manage this disease you should rake up and dispose of infected leaves as they drop and prune out dead twigs. This will remove spores that can infect new leaves. You should also keep the foliage dry by avoiding overhead watering and pruning to promote good air circulation. You should also maintain the health of your tree to limit susceptibility to insects and disease. This includes fertilizing as needed based on the results of a soil test. There is more information about this disease here.
Best of luck with your lovely tree!