There are two species of chokeberry found in the United States: one that produces red fruit, Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia); and one that produces black fruit, Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpia). Chokeberries are found in the Lake States, Northeast, and the Appalachian Region to the south. Both species are Frederick County natives, and are often found near streams or wetlands in the mountainous areas.
Chokeberries are relatively small shrubs, growing to about 3 – 6’ tall at maturity. They have simple, alternate leaves that are deciduous. Chokeberries bloom in May, and produce fruit in late August to early September. They are typically found in moist to wet conditions and can tolerate moderate shade. Chokeberries are found in bottomlands, bogs, and swampy forests; they are a common plant growing along shorelines in the Great Lakes. Chokeberries are grown for ornamental purposes. They are resistant to many insect and disease, have a fairly showy flower, bright red fall color, and the berries are readily consumed by a number of birds. Chokeberries are grown as seedlings, and they are often planted in reforestation and stream buffer plantings for wildlife.
Chokeberries get their name from their bitter tasting fruit. Once cooked, however, the fruits can be used for juices, pies, bread, baked goods, yogurt, and jams. Chokeberries are full of antioxidants, especially the black chokeberry, which contains some of the highest levels of phenolic phytochemicals, an antioxidant found in any fruit. Chokeberries are believed to prevent cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Article by FCFCDB member
Nature note for 6/30/2019