The black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) is a deciduous shrub from North America. It features white flowers, black fruits, and red fall foliage.
The given name for this shrub is Aronia melanocarpa. The species name of melanocarpa tells you that it does indeed bear black fruit. It is a sibling of the red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia). Both are part of the Rosaceae family.
It may also be noted as Photinia melanocarpa since it was formerly included within that genus.
This shrub is known as the black chokeberry, aroniaberry, aronia or simply chokeberry. Sometimes it is called chokecherry, though that is really a separate species (Prunus virginiana).
Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones
This shrub can be planted in Zones 3 to 8. It comes from eastern North America.
Size and Shape
Aronia melanocarpa is usually 3' to 6' tall and wide, though it can be up to 10' in width. It forms into a mound shape.
You can plant the black chokeberry in either full sun or partial shade. You will get the best flowering and fruiting in full sun locations.
Black chokeberry has dark green leaves that are 1" to 3" long and lanceolate or elliptical in shape. In the fall they change to reddish hues.
The white flowers appear during springtime and come in clusters called corymbs.
The fruit produced is a small black pome that has tannins which pack pucker power. They might be too astringent for some people, but they are eaten fresh and used in cooking for jams, juices and more. Birds will happily eat them off the shrub.
You can harness the natural tendency of Aronia melanocarpa to put out suckers to create masses of shrubs as part of a native garden.
If you want a smaller variety, look for 'Morton', which is known as Iroquois Beauty™, or 'Nero'. 'Autumn Magic' and 'Viking' have larger black fruit. ‘McKenzie’ is a taller cultivar that can be up to 12' tall.
Black chokeberry can be used as part of a garden designed to attract bees. They will also encourage birds to visit.
This shrub can grow well in both moist and dry locations. Ideally, the soil should be acidic but it can also grow in alkaline soils.
If you want to plant the seeds, you should stratify them in a cold location for three months or more to facilitate germination. You can also take cuttings or divide the clones.
Maintenance and Pruning
If you do not want the black chokeberry to clone itself and spread, you will need to keep the plant healthy and remove any suckers that appear.
Pests and Diseases
Aronia melanocarpa tends to not have any problems with pests or diseases.
Some studies on the black chokeberry have shown that there may be health benefits from the antioxidants for conditions like metabolic syndrome, oxidative stress, and diabetes, but further studies need to be done to assess this potential.
Note: The preceding section is for educational purposes only and is not meant to be medical advice. Check with your preferred health professional before taking the black chokeberry for medicinal reasons.