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PRUNUS virginiana

Image of Prunus virginiana

Jesse Saylor

Family

Rosaceae

Botanical Name

PRUNUS virginiana

Plant Common Name

Chokecherry

General Description

Dazzling with very fragrant white flowers in spring, chokecherry also produces dark red berries and a pretty fall foliage display in autumn. Native to central North America, this deciduous large shrub to small tree typically suckers to form a thicket. An individual tree's canopy is typically pyramid-like, with a smooth to slightly platy gray-brown bark. If its twigs are broken, they may emit a somewhat unpleasant odor. Glossy green to dark green leaves emerge in spring, unfurling to become broad ovals with very tiny teeth on their edges. By late spring many small, fragrant white flowers open on dangling spikes, called racemes, and are pollinated by bees. In late summer the small round red fruits develop, darkening to red or black when fully ripe. These have an astringent flavor which gives the plant its common name. Fall foliage color ranges from shades of pale yellow to orange and bright red.

Various chokecherry cultivars have been developed, including 'Schubert', which has striking purple foliage, and 'Canada Red' whose green leaves blush with red as they age. The natural variety demissa is a drought-tolerant strain native to the hotter, drier regions of the American West.

Chokecherry grows in a wide variety of exposures, from full sun to a fair amount of shade, and grows vigorously in deep, fertile soils. Wildlife friendly and highly ornamental, it makes a great windbreak or buffer plant on edges of properties. The fruits are eaten by many animals and are also edible to humans, sometimes used to make a delicious sweet preserve. However, there are some health concerns relating to the consumption of this plant by humans and mammals. For more information on this topic, go to http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_prvi.pdf .

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 10, 16

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    15'-25' / 4.6m - 7.6m

  • Width

    18'-25' / 5.5m - 7.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    North America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Thicket/Colonizing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

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

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Foundation, Hedges, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes