Have You Ever Seen A 'Sarvis' Tree?

Real Estate Agent with Prudential Georgia Realty - Rabun County, Ga.

Spring Comes To The Mountains of NE Georgia

My first spring spent in Rabun County was heralded with the blooming of one tree in particular that I'd never seen before.  Covered in small white blossoms, the trees were obviously native because they were sprinkled all over the faces of the mountains.  Since no other trees yet had any leaves and nothing else was yet blooming, I began to ask my newly made acquaintances about the tree.The first lady I asked told me it was a wild plum.  Now, I've seen wild plums before and know that they tend to be more bushy, but I thanked her and went on my way.

The next fellow told me that trees covered in white blossoms were dogwoods.  Now, I definitely knew better than that.  Having lived in the south all my life, not only do I know a dogwood when it is blooming, I can tell a dogwood tree from the others in the forest even when it is as bare as a new born baby's bottom.  I can also relate to you the story of how Jesus toted a cross made of wood from a dogwood tree and show you the flowers with the marks of the stigmata and the crown of thorns in the middle to prove it!

So, I knew it wasn't a dogwood tree.

Then, the fellow at the nursery told me it was a wild cherry.  That made a little better sense, but it still didn't look like any wild cherry or derivative thereof that I'd ever seen and I pride myself on knowing my blooming trees!

A few days later, I was visiting with the owner of a local business.  We were sitting outside admiring the fine spring weather and I looked across the cove to see a wonderful specimen of the blooming tree standing starkly amidst the still bare trucks and branches of the rest of the forest.

I told her of my travails in trying to learn the identity of the tree.  She looked at me and said clearly, "Why, that's a Sarvis tree." 

"A 'Sarvis' Tree?", I repeated.

"Yes, a Sarvis Tree."

You see, years ago, before the days of telephones, there was very little way of getting the news out to all the mountain folks.  Many of them would have spent the entire winter in or around their cabins with no way to get news of the local community.  Some may have even lost track of the exact date.  Easter being so mecurial and moving from date to date from year to year, was a difficult Sunday to keep track of, but the folks who wanted to start off the year 'right', definitely did not want to miss the Easter service.

So, the 'Sarvis' tree acted as a sign to all the mountain residents that it was time to attend the Easter service (pronounced 'sarvis' here in the mountains).

When the Sarvis tree blooms, put on your Easter bonnet and get to church 'cause Spring is here and Easter can't be far away!


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Wendy Welborne-Kimery
Keller Williams-Lake Norman Mooresville,NC - Mooresville, NC

I learn something everyday.  I've been in the Carolinas my entire life and didn't know this.

Have a great week!

Mar 03, 2009 10:35 PM #1
Lynda Hester
Prudential Georgia Realty - Rabun County, Ga. - Clayton, GA


Thank you fo rtaking the time to read my blog about the Sarvis Trees. 

I thought it was a pretty intersting story and wanted to share, but it seemed as if my blog was for naught - until I heard from you.

I'll send you a picture of a Sarvis Tree.

Where is Mooresville and Lake Norman?  I am in the north Ga mountains - just about 15 miles from NC.  I am licensed in NC, but never really do any businss there. Maybe we could work out an arrangment where we share prospective buyers in the hope they will buy from one or the other of us.  Sometimes, my prospects just want to look in NC and I have to let them go away on their own.  I'd feel better if I had a colleague to send them to.

Make today a great day!


Mar 03, 2009 11:35 PM #2
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Hi Lynda,

I told you I would be here, reading about this Sarvis tree. Actually, I read more than this, but wanted to show you I was here! And, here is the thing, I lived in GA for 11 years, never heard of this little tree. Probably saw one though. I still have family there, I can ya'll with the best of em!

And I posted info about the screen beans on my blog, but let me give it to you again. This is how I do it. I go to MS Word, click on "insert clip art", when I find the right clip art I right click it to copy, then I paste it in my photo editor. It is a .wmf file, so I open it, and save it as a jpeg. If this doesn't work for you, as penance for my shameless act of posting just to get points, I would be happy to take all the screen beans and send them to you. Let me know.

Keep blogging! And, you look mahvolus dahling!

Mar 05, 2009 09:31 AM #3

Ever since I can remember, my grandparents had two "Sarvis" trees in their back yard.  Those trees put out a lot of sweet berries every year.  My sister and I used to love picking and eating them right off the tree.  The birds loved them too, so you had to be quick.

It wasn't until I joined the Navy and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan that I started really started researching where I could find one of these trees.  The internet was almost non-existent, so I had to use the base library.  I found an old book of trees where to my surprise I found a tree that had the same leaves and berries.  That's when I discovered the real name - Serviceberry tree/bush.

I never gave any thought to why it was called a sarvis or service tree.  Thank you for sharing your story.  Now I know the origin of the name.


May 06, 2010 12:55 PM #4

That is an interesting tale about the origin of the name of the tree. However, it's more likely the name "Sarvis" derives from "sorbus," as in "Sorbus americana," the American mountain ash. which has a fruit similar to that of the "Sarvis tree."

They're blooming in the Ozarks today!

Mar 21, 2011 05:20 AM #5
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Lynda Hester

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