Photo Credit: Midwest Groundcovers. Click photo to order Black Chokeberry

Photo Credit: Midwest Groundcovers. Click photo to order Black Chokeberry

Photo credit: Missouri Botanic Garden

Photo credit: Missouri Botanic Garden

Photo Credit: University of Connecticut

Photo Credit: University of Connecticut

Black Chokeberry

(Aronia melanocarpa/Aronia melanocarpa var. elata)

Have a wetter, sunny spot in your yard that you don’t know what to do with? Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) might just be the garden shrub for you!

A member of the rose family, Black Chokeberry is an adaptable 3-(5)-8-foot high native shrub that does best in naturalized plantings, massing and shrub borders in full to partial sun. Commonly found in the wild in moist sites with sandy acidic soils, Black Chokeberry also grows successfully in drier locations and in standard garden conditions.

This Aronia species with its late-spring flowering, clusters of dark blue-black fruit in late summer and brilliant red/orange fall color is attractive in three seasons. Clusters of white five-petaled flowers bloom for about three weeks in late spring. The fruit that follows from fertilized flowers is not held on the plant for long. This species is described as suckering but this is not a consistent characteristic.

Aronia melanocarpa var. elata is a naturally occurring variety and not a genetically manipulated cultivar. As described by the Iowa State University Extension, varieties can occur in nature and grow true to type from seed, unlike cultivars. This variety, more commonly available in the trade than the species, has larger leaves, flowers and fruit than the species, and is less prone to suckering.

Black chokeberry flowers support a variety of pollinators that include a number of bee species and other pollinating insects. It is also a host plant for the Coral Hairstreak butterfly and several moths. Birds and mammals will eat the berries. Species include one of my favorites, Cedar Waxwings! Protect these shrubs when first planted as they can be browsed by deer and rabbits.