This past weekend, our oldest sarvis bloomed. That’s Juneberry or Serviceberry up north. This is a large, older tree that was seriously damaged when the EMC did a powerline cut some thirty years ago. It’s still hanging in there, and usually blooms some in the spring. Sometimes it comes before the younger trees and sometimes after them. The younger trees are beginning to show a tiny bit of white at their tips, but I don’t know how the coming freeze will affect them. They are pretty frost insensitive, so they’ll probably be all right, but I don’t know when they’ll flower. The redbuds are still going strong, and the crab apples haven’t yet flowered. Sometimes they all come at once, which is wonderful, but it didn’t happen this year.
Here’s some information on the sarvis from the North Carolina Extension’s Gardener’s Toolbox, which is a very helpful site for information on native plants and their uses.
The name “sarvis” or “service” is thought to be a reference to the fact that the flowers are used for altar decorations at Easter if the dogwoods haven’t bloomed yet. They seem to have declined in our area over the past thirty years, and I encourage everybody to try to conserve them. When they are young, the bark looks quite a bit like a young red maple’s bark, but the leaf is obviously different. When they are old, the bark gets heavily fissured and cracked.
This is the only sarvis I’ve seen in bloom in our area. The rest of the white blooming trees I’m seeing are Bradford pear. They look pretty, but they aren’t a desirable tree, despite their frequent use in landscaping. They smell bad, and they are really invasive. Here’s a piece from the Gardener’s Toolbox that explains some of the problems.
For a while North Carolina even had a bounty on the Bradford pear. If you cut one down and brought it in, they’d give you a better tree to plant. I don’t know if the program continues or not, but it was probably the right idea. There are a lot here in my neighborhood that I’d like to cut down.