Shrubs . Stems 1–20, 0.5–5 m, often colonial, much branched; twigs often persistently hairy after flowering. Leaves conduplicate in bud, grayish green, unfolded as well as more than half-grown, finely hairy abaxially by flowering; petioles 5–18 mm; blades abaxially pale green to glaucous, suborbiculate to oval or obovate, 0.5 –3(–5.5) x 0.5 –2(–4.5) cm, subcoriaceous to coriaceous, bases rounded to subcordate or sometimes cuneate, margins dentate mostly in distal 1/2 with 3–5 teeth per cm or entire, lateral veins 7–13 pairs, remaining distinct to the margin and not anastomosing, surfaces usually finely hairy especially abaxially (glabrous). Inflorescences 3–6-flowered, erect or ascending, 2–3 cm, only proximalmost pedicel subtended by leaf. Pedicels hairy, proximalmost 1–2 cm. Flowers: hypanthia campanulate or funnelform, 3–4 mm diam.; sepals usually recurving after flowering, 2–3 mm, adaxially hairy; petals white, oblanceolate to cuneate, 5–11 x 1.5– 4.5 mm, not andropetalous; stamens 10–15(–18); styles 2–4(–5); ovary summit rounded, densely hairy (glabrous). Pomes purplish black, 6–10 mm diam., insipid.
Flowering Apr–May; fruiting Jul–Sep.
Dry rocky slopes, canyons, banks of creeks, mountainsides, foothills, deserts; 900–3500 m
Ariz., Calif., Colo., Idaho, Mont., Nev., N.Mex., Oreg., Tex., Utah, Wash., Wyo.; Mexico (Baja California)
(see Systematics page for references cited)
The often persistently and finely hairy leaves and twigs, short petals, and reduced numbers of stamens and styles are distinctive characters for the wide-ranging and common Amelanchier utahensis. It has an extensive synonymy. Within 25 years of its publication, about a dozen names were published that G. N. Jones (1946) considered synonyms of A. utahensis. Some recent floras have recognized some of these synonymized taxa, including A. bakeri Greene, A. covillei, A. mormonica Schneider, A. oreophila A. Nelson, A. pallida, and A. venulosa Greene. Of these, A. pallida has been most often recognized, but the characters used to distinguish it from A. utahensis, such as sepal shape, number of leaf veins, petal length, and the amount of pubescence on twigs, pedicels, and hypanthia, are not definitive. Wee tentatively include Amelanchier pallida in A. utahensis.
Amelanchier utahensis does not appear to be particularly closely related to any other species. DNA sequences from the ITS region support inclusion of this species in the western North American clade, but the authors also place A. utahensis as the sister to all other members of the clade (C. S. Campbell et al. 1997). Other, unpublished molecular data corroborate the somewhat isolated position among western North American Amelanchier.