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ARONIA arbutifolia

Image of Aronia arbutifolia

Russell Stafford

Family

Rosaceae

Botanical Name

ARONIA arbutifolia

Plant Common Name

Red Chokeberry, Red Chokecherry

General Description

Spring finds the red chokeberry teeming with clusters of small white flowers, and the autumnal display of fiery red leaves and thousands of red berries that last well into winter is second to none. A mounding, deciduous shrub native to the eastern United States, it typically forms a thicket by sending out underground stems (rhizomes) that turn up and emerge to make new plants. Individual plants are narrow and upright, with a cluster of small, thin, dark brown branches that flare out into a leafy, rounded canopy. Leaves are slightly shiny and a medium to dark green with tiny teeth on the edges. Leaf undersides are gray and fuzzy.

By late spring, the branches are decorated with copious numbers of small, five-petaled white blossoms that are relished by honeybees. Pollinated flowers become bright red berries by fall that carry on the flaming show after the bright red foliage drops. The dense populations of fruit linger well into winter, since birds tend to favor other (better-flavored) fruits before visiting red chokeberry.

Plant red chokeberry in well-drained, acidic soils that are rich in organic matter for the robust growth that will lead to a massive thicket. It is quite adaptable to other soils and also is sound drought tolerance. In partially shaded locales the flowering and fruiting can be reduced, and the fall leaf color can have more orange tones. Full sun situations are best and lead to the boldest, retina-burning, bright red autumn foliage. Use red chokeberry in the mixed border, in wildlife gardens, as a stabilizing planting on a hillside, or alongside streams or lakes. Cut the berried branches for a pretty cutflower accent around Christmastime. The cultivar 'Brilliantissima' has much shinier leaves than the species, and its fall leaf color is consistently magnificent.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 4

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    6'-10' / 1.8m - 3.0m

  • Width

    5"-8" / 12.7cm - 20.3cm

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, South-Central United States, Texas

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Thicket/Colonizing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes