Aronia melanocarpa, commonly called black chokeberry, is an open, upright, spreading, somewhat rounded but leggy, suckering, deciduous shrub that typically grows 3-6’ (or highr) tall. It is native to low woods, swamps, bogs and moist thickets but occasionally to dry upland areas, from Newfoundland to southern Ontario and Minnesota south to Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia. It is noted for its 5-6 flowered clusters of white 5-petaled spring (May) flowers, glossy elliptic to obovate dark green leaves (to 2-3” long) with finely toothed margins, black autumn berries (blueberry size) and purple/red fall color.
The Genus name comes from the Greek word aria the name for a species of Sorbus of which the fruits resemble chokeberry.
Specific epithet comes from the words melano meaning black and carpa meaning fruit in reference to the ripe fruits of this shrub.
The common name of chokeberry is in reference to the tart and bitter taste of the fruits which are technically edible but so astringent as to cause choking in most of those who try. Fruits are sometimes used to make tasty jams and jellies. The juices of the Aronias are reputed to be very high in antioxidents.
Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Plants have a wide range of soil tolerance including boggy soils. Best fruit production usually occurs in full sun. Remove root suckers to prevent colonial spread.No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf spots and twig/fruit blight.
Group or mass in shrub borders, small gardens or open woodland areas. Ability to withstand wet conditions makes it suitable for growing on the margins of ponds or streams. Excellent addition to naturalized areas where its suckering, colonial growth habit does not need to be restrained. The fruit is loved by songbirds.