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New This Week

April 22, 2024

Plant Spotlight: Chokeberry

Ornamental, beneficial, and delicious!

Why chokeberry you ask?  It’s a low-maintenance native shrub that offers beautiful multi-season interest, significant wildlife support, and wide-ranging health benefits for humans.  With both Earth Day and Arbor Day this week, we thought it appropriate to choose a native shrub or tree for the Plant of the Week! 

This spring you’ll find Black Chokeberry, Red Chokeberry, and Purple Chokeberry (a cross of red and black) here at Painters.  We are offering both straight species options as well as some beautiful native cultivars.  Chokeberry is a great alternative to brilliantly colored but invasive plants such as nandina or burning bush - it offers similarly brilliant red or orange fall color, and you can find a range of size options amongst the nativars.  Red chokeberry holds its rich red berries well into the winter, but the black and purple chokeberry also have lovely fruit.  The berries are a nutritious food source for many bird species (including the gorgeous cedar waxwing), while the dense growth provides great nesting and shelter habitat.  All three types of chokeberry have lovely spring blooms with pale pink to white flower clusters covering the plant and attracting and feeding butterflies and other pollinators. 

Chokeberry is truly a hands-off plant.  It has evolved to tolerate a range of conditions - though it does prefer more moist sites and part shade, it can also grow in full sun and drier conditions.  The red chokeberry tends to grow more like a small tree, with a more open habit and bare trunk, so it looks best in the back of gardens or with shorter plants layered in front of it.  Black chokeberry is denser, and several nativars have been cultivated to be low-growing and work well as low hedges.   

While the name doesn’t exactly encourage eating it, the fruit of the Black Chokeberry has been shown to have some pretty amazing benefits to human health. The fruit is definitely astringent and may make your mouth pucker when eaten fresh, but the flavor is really tasty when sweetened in a jam, wine, or simple syrup.  

Below are our chokeberry options currently available:

Red Chokeberry

Aronia arbutifolia

3 Gal for $42.00 

  • NATIVE deciduous shrub (z4-8) full sun, 6-10' tall, 3-6' wide

  • White spring blooms, brilliant fall foliage, attractive winter bark

  • Widely adaptable, tolerant of wet soil

  • Beautiful red berries are tart and bitter but can be used for jams and jellies

Red Chokeberry 'Brilliantissima'

Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima'

2 Gal for $26.00 

  • NATIVAR deciduous shrub (z4-9) full-part sun, 6-10' tall, 3-5' wide

  • Brilliant red foliage in fall, white blooms and glossy red berries; excellent wildlife value

  • Adaptable and compact, tolerant of a wide range of conditions; good native alternative to burning bush

Black chokeberry

Aronia melanocarpa

2 Gal for $28.00  

  • NATIVE deciduous shrub (z3-8) full sun-part shade, 3-6' tall and wide

  • White spring flowers, black autumn berries; excellent wildlife value

  • Vibrant orange-purple foliage in fall

  • Tolerant of wet soil, good choice for rain gardens or water margins; spreading habit

Black Chokeberry 'Viking'

Aronia melanocarpa 'Viking'

2 Gal for $24.00 

  • NATIVAR deciduous fruiting shrub (z3-9) full sun, 3-6' tall and wide

  • Cultivar developed for orchards, with larger fruits than the species; fragrant white spring blooms, brilliant red fall foliage

  • Nutrient-rich berries are too tart to eat fresh but perfect for jams and juices

Purple Chokeberry 'Aron'

Aronia prunifolia 'Aron'

2 Gal for $26.00

  • NATIVAR deciduous shrub (z3-8) full sun-part shade, 5-8' tall, 3-6' wide

  • Hybrid of red and black chokeberry with white spring flowers and dark purple summer fruits; superb autumn color

  • Thrives in boggy soil; tolerant of occasional flooding

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