While many people anxiously await the dogwood blooms, I look for the hints of the deep pink to red to purple blooms of the redbud (Cercis canadensis L.). Appearing just after the white bloom clusters of the Service berry (Amelanchier aborea), I’ve never gotten used to that sudden splash of color. This year I decided I needed to mark the blooming Redbuds with surveyors tape so I could remember their location come winter and not be quite so surprised in the spring. That decision has lead to some little adventures since most of the Redbud on our property is growing on steep west facing slopes. Getting to them is not all that difficult, it is getting back to the top of the ridge. At least I’m beginning to lose a bit of that extra weight winter brought me.
According to Shrubs and Woody Vines of Missouri Redbuds are a good source of nectar for bees and several species of birds eat the resulting seeds while the foliage is browsed by deer. Nice that it can be beautiful and useful. The flowers are pea-like and like peas, form pods that eventually break open.
Even better news for bird lovers is how great Service berry is as a food source. That same reference book states at least 35 species of birds eat its berries and 11 species of mammals also eat the berries or browse the twigs and foliage. Several years ago I marked the Service berry in our immediate area. Now I know a Service berry no matter what the season or its size.
It may seem to be unimportant information, perhaps even useless. Well, no. Not the case. If you own more than a small city lot that was razed of all living matter to build your home, you will be facing choices of what to continue to let grow, what to cut down or clear. There are many native shrubs, small trees and vines that can be attractive and when encouraged, beneficial to wildlife. Redbud and Service berry are two of many. It’s a tough life, being a small shrub or tree, so now I challenge myself to identify them. Not an easy task for me. I have difficulty remembering the names of new acquaintences, movies and song lyrics. I find repetition helps. Now, everytime I see the tagged Redbuds, I’ll be reinforcing the look with the name.
Works for me.