Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
Mature height: 3 to 8'
Mature width: 2 to 6'
Growth rate: Medium
Plant form: Upright, rounded
Deciduous or evergreen: Deciduous
Native range: Newfoundland south to Georgia; West to Minnesota and Arkansas
Native to Minnesota: Yes
Invasive in Minnesota: No
Light: Prefers full sun, tolerates partial shade
Soil texture: clay, loam, sandy
Soil pH: prefers 5.1-6.5; tolerates higher
Soil moisture: poorly-drained to well-drained and moist to wet soils.
Hardiness zone: 3 to 8
Pests and stresses: None serious. Visit What's wrong with my shrub? – Chokeberry for a list of the most common black chokeberry pests in Minnesota.
Other: salt tolerant, tolerant of compacted, wet, and dry soils. Suckers to form colonies. Browsed by deer and rabbits.
Black chokeberry has two seasons of interest: spring and fall. Dark green glossy, finely-toothed 1-3" leaves form a backdrop for 2-3" clusters of flowers in spring. The white five-petaled flowers have showy pink anthers. Flowers are followed by clusters of ¼ to ½" fruit that turn purplish-black or black in late summer and autumn. In autumn, leaves change from green to vibrant tones of red, orange, and purple.
Black chokeberry is an adaptable tough shrub because of its hardiness and wide tolerance to a variety of soil textures, densities, pH levels, and moisture conditions. In northern and central Minnesota, native chokeberries are commonly found in shrub swamps, along lake shores, or in openings of wetland forests where they may sucker to form small colonies. In cultivated landscapes, where chokeberries have less competition and receive more fertility and care, they become strongly suckering plants. Because of suckering and its tolerance to wet soils, this species is typically used in mass planting, in naturalized and woodland gardens, for erosion control, in windbreaks, and in landscapes with excessively wet soils. Fruit can persist into winter and serves as a food source for birds and mammalian wildlife.
A. melanocarpa can also be used as an edible fruit crop although the fruit is too astringent to eat raw. The fruit is used instead in baking and to make jams, jellies, syrup, tea, juice, and wine. Black chokeberry now ranks high among health foods because its blueberry-sized fruit possess the highest level of antioxidants among temperate fruit species.
Some cultivars grown in Minnesota:
Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension
Upright form of 'Autumn Magic' black chokeberry
Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension
White spring flowers of 'Autumn Magic' black chokeberry
Julie Weisenhorn, UMN Extension
Dark fruit of black chokeberry in fall
|Cultivar||Compact habitat||Fall color||Large abundant fruit clusters||Reduced suckering|