Aronia arbutifolia, commonly called red chokeberry, is a deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub that is native to both wet and dry thickets in Eastern North America (Nova Scotia and Ontario to Ohio south to Texas and Florida). It typically grows in a vase-shaped form to 6-10’ tall and to 3-6' wide, but tends to sucker and form colonies. Clusters (corymbs) of white to light pink, 5-petaled flowers (1/3”diameter) appear in spring. Flowers are followed by abundant glossy red fruits (1/4” diameter) which appear in dense clusters along the branches. Fruits ripen in late summer and persist on the shrub throughout fall and well into winter. Elliptic to oblong to obovate leaves (to 3 1/2” long) are glossy dark green above and pubescent grayish-green beneath. Foliage turns bright red in autumn and compares favorably with burning bush (Euonymus alatus) for excellence of fall color. Fruits are sometimes used to make tasty jams and jellies. Aronia arbutifolia is synonymous with Pyrus arbutifolis and Photinia pyrifolia.
The genus name comes from the Greek word aria the name for a species of Sorbus of which the fruits resemble chokeberry, and the species name means having leaves like Arbutus.
The common name is in reference to the tart and bitter berries which are technically edible but are so astringent as to cause choking in those who try. The juice is said to be high in antioxidents
The plant is easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade with a wide range of soil tolerance including boggy soils. Best fruit production usually occurs in full sun. Remove root suckers to prevent colonial spread.
We currently carry 'Brilliantissima' which typically grows slowly to 6-8' tall and is most noted for its attractive glossy red berries and red fall foliage color. It differs from the species by (1) being more compact, (2) producing more lustrous foliage with superior red fall color and (3) producing larger, glossier and more abundant fruit.
No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf spots and twig/fruit blight.
Group or mass in shrub borders or woodland areas. The ability to withstand wet conditions makes it suitable for growing on the margins of ponds or streams. It's also effective in naturalized areas where its suckering, colonial growth habit does not need to be restrained. Good native plant with multi-season ornamental interest.
Grows well in any soil but prefers moist and acidic soil. Great autumn color of red berries, which birds enjoy.
Information adapted from: Missouri Botanic Garden