A rather large family, widely distributed, including many attractive trees and shrubs, such as Mountain Ash and Hawthorn, as well as Pears and Apples, with pretty blossoms and conspicuous, often edible fruits; leaves alternate; stipules small; flowers regular, perfect, single or in clusters; calyx usually five-toothed or five-lobed; petals mostly five, usually with claws; stamens numerous, or rarely few, separate, with small anthers; ovary inferior and compound; styles one to five. The calyx-tube gradually thickens and becomes a "pome," or apple-like fruit, in which the core is the ovary.

There are several kinds of Amelanchier, of the north temperate zone; shrubs or trees, with thornless branches and white flowers, usually in clusters; calyx-tube bell-, shaped, with five narrow sepals; petals five; stamena numerous, on the throat of the calyx; styles two to five in number, united and hairy at base; ovary wholly or partly inferior; fruit small and berry-like. The name is from the French for the Medlar. These shrubs are called Shad-bush in the East, because they bloom just when the shad are beginning to run in the rivers.