A low shrub usually 2 to 3 (rarely more than 6) ft high. Leaves oval or slightly ovate, 1 to 2 in. long, tapering towards both ends, sharply toothed nearly to the base, almost glabrous from the commencement, but with some loose floss on the surfaces and edges when expanding. Flowers pure white, 3⁄4 to 1 in. across; solitary, in pairs, sometimes in threes or fours, on short lateral twigs, each flower on a slender stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. Petals rounded, obovate, 1⁄4 in. wide, broader in proportion to their length than in the other amelanchiers; top of ovary densely woolly. Fruit pear-shaped or oblong, dark purple, nearly 1⁄2 in. long, not so wide. Bot. Mag., t. 8499.
Native of Canada, Newfoundland, and the northern United States, and the most northerly of the amelanchiers, inhabiting cold swamps and mountain bogs. It is extremely rare in cultivation, the plant usually supplied by nurserymen for this species being a form of A. arborea. It is easily distinguished by its few-flowered inflorescence and the rounded petals; and differs from all other species in cultivation by the prussic acid odour of the bark when bruised – like that of many cherries and almonds. A specimen in the R.H.S. Garden at Wisley has reached a height of 12 ft. It appears to be the true species.
From the Supplement (Vol. V)
A shrub of diverse habit, dwarf and bushy or sometimes erect and up to 10 ft high. Leaf-blades almost glabrous from the start, opening almost flat (not closely folded along the midrib as in other amelanchiers), elliptic to oblong-elliptic, 1 to 21⁄4 in. long and 5⁄8 to 13⁄4 in. wide, tapered gradually or abruptly to a petiole only 1⁄8 to 3⁄8 in. long, toothed throughout. Flowers pure white in late April or early May, 3⁄4 to 1 in. wide, few in each raceme or solitary. Petals obovate, 1⁄4 in. wide, broader in proportion to their length than in other amelanchiers. Top of ovary densely woolly. Fruits pear-shaped to ellipsoid, about 1⁄8 in. long, less in width. Bot. Mag., t.8499.
Native of eastern Canada and the north-eastern USA, reaching to the subalpine zone and often found in cold swamps and mountain bogs; named after William Bartram, the American naturalist and explorer, who introduced it to Europe. It is the most distinct of the genus, easily distinguished by its leaves being imbricate in the bud, the few-flowered inflorescence, the broad petals and narrowish fruits. It also differs from other species in cultivation by the prussic acid odour of the bark when bruised – like that of many cherries and almonds.