The red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) is a deciduous shrub that can liven up your garden with its red berries and fall foliage.
The scientific name assigned to this species is Aronia arbutifolia and it is part of the Rosaceae family. In the past, it was classified as Photinia pyrifolia but has since been placed into the Aronia (chokeberry) genus after further research.
This shrub is called red chokeberry or simply chokeberry. Though the common name is sometimes used for both plants, this is a different shrub than the chokecherry (Prunus virginiana). The two do both belong to the Rosaceae family but are in different genera.
Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones
This species of chokeberry has the best growth in Zones 4-9. It is native to eastern North America.
Size and Shape
The mature size of Aronia arbutifolia will be 6-10' tall and 3-6' wide. It will have either an oval or vase shape at maturity.
The red chokeberry may be grown in full sun or partial shade. For the best flowering and fruit set, find a site with full sun. Autumn leaf coloring will also be more intense with more sun.
Foliage, Flowers, and Fruit
The 1.5-3.5" leaves are oblong, obovate or elliptical. The top side will be shades of shiny medium to dark green. Underneath, the fuzzy leaves are lighter with a grey-green hue.
Clusters of scented flowers appear in the spring. Chokeberry blossoms will be either light pink or white.
The red berries usually have too much pucker power to be eaten fresh, though they are used to make jams and jellies.
For a red chokeberry variety that will put on a stunning show through every season of the year, choose 'Brilliantissima'. It flowers and fruits more than the species shrub. The fruits are also larger than usual. The fall display will feature dazzling red leaves and the red berries will stay throughout the winter.
If you want to attract birds to your garden in winter, this shrub may help. While the berries can be quite astringent in their raw state, birds will eat them during the wintertime when food may be scarce.
Aronia arbutifolia is a drought-tolerant shrub. It is also able to handle salt and pollution, meaning that it should do well in urban conditions.
This chokeberry works well in most soil conditions as it can live in a range from dry to wet soils. It prefers a site with good drainage and moist soil.
In addition to separating out the clones from suckers, you can use seeds or cuttings to propagate new plants.
Maintenance and Pruning
You will need to keep your red chokeberry in check because it will clone itself through suckers. This can be a desirable trait, however, as it can provide an inexpensive way to create a mass of shrubs. For instance, it would do very well as part of a native plant garden.
Pests and Diseases
Aronia arbutifolia generally does not attract many pests or diseases. You may find some fruit or twig blight at times, and there is also the possibility of leaf spots. Neither will usually cause too much damage to the plant.