Black Chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa

Aronia melanocarpa, commonly known as Black Chokeberry, is native to eastern North America from Canada to Georgia. Chokeberry is in the family Rosaceae. It is usually found in boggy, low woods, swamps, and moist thickets. Chokeberry is an open, up-right, deciduous bush that becomes leggy with age. Removing root suckers will prevent colonial spread. Chokeberry grows from 3-feet to 6-feet tall and 6-feet wide.

Chokeberry thrives in well-drained, moist soil. Fruit production is best in full sun, but Chokeberry can tolerate some shade and is salt tolerant. It also grows well at the edge of ponds. The white flowers appear in May, and the leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall. The black berries also appear in the fall. It is bothered by few pests.

The common name Chokeberry is in reference to the tart and bitter taste of the fruits which are edible but so astringent that the berries cause most people to choke. The berries can be used to make jams and jellies.

Genus name comes from the Greek word aria, the name for a species of sorbus which the fruits resemble. The name comes from the words melano meaning ‘black’ and carpa meaning ‘fruit’ in reference to the color of ripe fruits of this species.

Chokeberry is at home in cottage gardens and rain gardens. It is a wonderful addition to a native garden or pollinator garden. The fruit is eaten by local birds and the nectar is loved by pollinators.

Look for Chokeberry in the Brunswick County Botanical Garden.

Information and Photo by Jeanne Pavero