With clusters of white spring blooms and astringent reddish-purple berry-like edible fruits, chokecherry is a deciduous suckering shrub or tiny, bush-like tree. The crown of a chokecherry bush is rounded and irregular, growing up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall.
Smooth gray bark, glossy green egg-shaped leaves, white spring flowers, and dark red or black summer fruits are some of the other identifiable features of chokecherry plants.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to recognize chokecherry bushes and trees in the environment. Recognition of these deciduous shrubs in the landscape can be aided by pictures and descriptions of chokecherry bush leaves, fruit, bark, and flowers.
Chokecherry Tree Facts
Chokecherry is a suckering perennial tree or multi-stemmed shrub that produces suckers. It is a suckering perennial tree or multi-stemmed shrub. In the United States and Canada, fruit-bearing trees or shrubs are widespread. Chokecherry berry-like drupes are used to make jams and jellies and are well-known for their tart, bitter flavor.
The chokecherry is a drupe-producing tree and shrub in the Prunus genus. North American black cherry (Prunus serotina) has a lot in common with chokecherry trees. The fruit, leaf, and plant size of the chokecherry are all somewhat smaller.
A chokecherry shrub typically grows to be 3 to 20 feet (1 to 6 meters) tall and broad. Nonetheless, some chokecherry trees may grow to be 30 feet (9 meters) tall. The enormous suckering shrub has an irregular, rounded crown in a landscape. The chokecherry grows well in USDA zones 2 through 10 as a cold-hardy shrub or tree.
Full sun or part shade is ideal for the attractive flowering plant. Planting the chokecherry in slightly moist or dry well-drained soil is recommended for best results. Chokecherry, on the other hand, is drought resistant when it first grows.
The bitter taste of the drupes gave the term “chokecherry” its popularity. Virginia bird cherry, bitter-berry, American chokecherry, and black chokecherry are all names for Prunus virginiana. It’s also a good idea not to mix chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) with chokeberry (Aronia) since they’re both tart-fruited shrubs.
Chokeberries belong to a different genus, and their fruits are pomes, not drupes. They look similar but are from a different family.
Are Chokecherries Edible?
Although the seeds of the Chokecherry tree contain toxins, the flesh of its berry-like fruit is quite acidic. While chokecherry fruit is edible, it becomes extremely bitter when eaten raw, especially unripe chokecherries. Because of the extremely astringent flavor that can make your lips puckery, the only way the “cherry” will “choke” you is by itself.
The stone in the center of the pea-sized fleshy fruits. Other parts of the chokecherry tree, such as seeds, leaves, and stems, are poisonous and should not be consumed as a precaution.
The ovate or egg form of chokecherry tree leaves, with serrated edges and tapering tips, distinguishes them from other kinds. Between 3” and 6” (7.5 – 15 cm) long, 1″ to 3″ (2.5 – 7.5 cm) broad are the leaves of chokecherry trees. When crushed, the oval pointed leaves release a strong, bitter odor that is characteristic of them.
The leaf color is another method to identify chokecherry. The dark, glossy green color of the top surface of the ovate leaves. Fine white or yellow hairs cover the underside of the leaf, which is a lighter green. Also look for a pointed tip and serrated edges around the leaf.
In the autumn, chokecherry leaves turn yellow, golden-orange, or crimson. The purple leaves of the chokecherry tree cultivar ‘Schubert’ turn brilliant red in the autumn, however.
The size and type of leaf are two ways to distinguish a chokecherry tree from a black cherry tree. The chokecherry has fine teeth running along the edges, as opposed to black cherry tree leaves that are smooth with blunt edges. In addition, chokecherry leaves have a coarser texture than black cherry leaves.
The gray smooth surface and horizontal white lenticels that resemble tiny raised bumps distinguish chokecherry tree bark. As the tree grows, the thin bark develops shallow valleys or fissures. Chokecherry trees can be distinguished from other types of cherry trees by looking at the bark. Rather than reddish-brown, chokecherry bark has a characteristic gray color. In addition, compared to other cherry trees, the lenticels on chokecherry are less prominent.
chokedcherry trees are identified by their five-petaled white flowers, which are arranged in cylindrical clusters (racemes). The racemes of the showy chokecherry are 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) long. There are between 20 and 50 lovely white blooms in each cluster.
Five rounded petals and a yellow-orange center make individual cup-shaped flowers unique. When the flowers bloom in mid-spring, you can tell if a chokecherry tree is present. The attractive, fragrant aroma of white and yellow cylinder-like flower clusters fills yards.
Chokecherry Fruit (Chokecherries)
Bunches of little, 0.2–0.4 inch (0.5–1 cm) pea-sized reddish-purple berry-like drupes are identifiable as chokecherry fruit on the tree. The crimson berries turn dark purple in the late summer, and are also known as chokecherries. The clusters of red or purple “berries” on chokecherry bushes in the summer are easy to identify.
When they’re ready to eat, however, you can tell if a chokecherry is ripe by its dark color. While ripened chokecherries have an astringent flavor while fresh, many individuals prefer to eat them straight from the tree.
A big seed is found in each chokecherry drupe. Up to half of the drupe’s volume can be made up of round seeds. It’s important to understand that chokecherry seeds are toxic and shouldn’t be consumed. Harvesting and using chokecherry seeds to create new trees the next spring is the greatest way to utilize them.
Is Chokecherry Poisonous?
Humans and animals should avoid eating most parts of the chokecherry tree. Hydrocyanic acid, also known as cyanide, is released when chokecherry seeds, leaves, stems, and bark are eaten. The seeds might be poisonous if eaten in high doses. Nevertheless, chokecherries’ succulent fruits are non-toxic, and the stones can be eaten without risk.
The leaves, flowers, and fruit of a chokecherry tree can be used to identify it. The dark green, ovate leaves with finely serrated borders and pointed tips of a chokecherry tree are easily recognized. Also check for white spring blooms clustered in cylindrical clusters. In the summer, clusters of red or purple pea-sized chokecherry fruits identify the shrubs.
You may grow a single-stemmed chokecherry tree by removing suckers from the central trunk. The chokecherry is a multi-stemmed shrub that is a perennial, deciduous suckering plant. By removing the suckers that develop around the central stem, you may grow a single-stemmed chokecherry tree.
What is Canada Red Chokecherry?
The ornamental tree or shrub Prunus virginiana ‘Canada Red’ has exquisite crimson-purple leaves. The arching branches of the tree create a 25 to 30-foot-tall (7.6 to 9-meter) rounded canopy with a 15 to 20-foot-(4.5 to 6-meter) spread.
The Canada red kind has little white showy flowers that bloom in the spring, similar to the ordinary chokecherry tree. Flowers turn into tart, black edible drupes that are palatable when used in sauces, pickles, and jellies after being pollinated.
Chokecherry Tree Uses in the Landscape
The chokecherry tree may be placed in front or backyards as an attractive landscape tree. As a specimen tree or lawn tree, the tree has a appealing rounded crown, green leafy foliage, white spring blossoms, and black berries. Chokecherry makes a stunning flowering hedge, privacy screen, or windbreak as a suckering shrub.
Another reason to plant a chokecherry tree is the shrub’s lovely leaves and flowers, as well as the berries it produces in late summer and fall.
There are a few factors to think about when planting a chokecherry hedge or tree. Then, many animals are poisoned by the foliage, seeds, and twigs. As a result, if you have pets, this should be taken into consideration. Second, deer are drawn to the chokecherry fruit. Thus, you may want to try another kind of blooming tree, thorny shrub, or deer-proof plant if deer are a issue in your neighborhood.
Chokecherry Tree Care
Let’s examine how to grow a chokecherry tree in a garden landscape, step by step.
Where to Plant Chokecherry Tree in a Garden Landscape
Where it receives at least six hours of sunlight each day, a chokecherry tree thrives. To promote healthy foliage, flowers, and berries, growing in full sun is required. In partial shade, however, chokecherry should perform well, although you may notice that blooming isn’t as abundant if there is too much.
Make sure the soil is well-draining when selecting a location for a common chokecherry shrub or bush. In fertile, dry to medium moist soil, chokecherry plants flourish. It’s worth noting that chokecherry trees can live with little water scarcity. To ensure a plentiful supply of berries, the soil should still retain some moisture.
Growing Chokecherries in Containers
On patios, decks, or paved yards, chokecherry shrubs may also be planted in containers. Trees planted in the ground have showy white blooms and a tart crimson-purple fruit, just like potted chokecherry plants. Additionally, because of the pot’s small size, it will determine its height. A container will typically support a chokecherry bush that grows to be 12 feet (3.6 meters) tall. When planting a chokecherry bush in a pot, here are some helpful guidelines:
- Use a light, sandy potting mix that retains moisture well.
- When the top layer of soil gets dry, water the potted chokecherry.
- Place the shrub in full sun or partial shade to ensure that the soil and container drains well.
- To encourage blooming and fruiting, fertilize the shrub frequently throughout the growing season.
How to Water Chokecherry Tree
If there is no rainfall, water a chokecherry tree twice a week throughout the growing season. You may, however, water less often with mature, well-established trees. To ensure high fruitquality, adequate irrigation is required. Drought-tolerant plants include chokecherry trees. During dry spells, the trees may withstand without receiving any water or rain.
If the ground is too dry, a chokecherry tree will produce less fruit in hot summers. Roots that remain in wet soil for too long, on the other hand, are prone to rotting and have an impact on plant development.
Top tip when watering a chokecherry tree: To prevent powdery mildew or other signs of foliage fungal infections, always water the ground and avoid splashing water on leaves.
How to Plant Chokecherry Tree
Planting a chokecherry tree in the spring or fall is the best time. By planting the chokecherry roots now, you’ll have time to establish them before the summer heat arrives. Space chokecherry trees at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) apart when being planted. This keeps the environment aerated and promotes development. When you plant the tree or shrub, remember to select the brightest location in your garden.
Dig a hole twice the depth and width of the root ball for each chokecherry tree or shrub. Fill in the remaining area with soil, firming it as you go to eliminate air pockets, then put the root ball in the center and back-fill. Water the land thoroughly after you’ve filled it in, then let it settle.
Over the root area, add 4″ to 6″ (10 – 15 cm) of bark mulch or a mulch alternative after planting a chokecherry tree. Mulching prevents weeds and protects the roots from heat and cold.
Pruning a Chokecherry Tree
To encourage healthy development and abundant berries, pruning a chokecherry tree or shrub is required. You must cut off branches of the chokecherry tree to avoid it becoming a bush since it’s a suckering shrub. Remove all shoots and lower branches from the stem or root area in early spring or winter.
Pruning assists to train a chokecherry shrub to develop as an attractive bush when growing. To encourage blooming, berries, and a pleasing shape in the winter or early spring, cut back about one-third of the old growth. Removing old wood every year helps to ensure a bumper harvest of “berries,” so it’s good to remember that fruit grows on young wood.
Chokecherry Tree Fertilization
Chokecherry tree fertilization helps to encourage flowering, excellent fruit production, and disease resistance. Each spring, it’s a good idea to apply a balanced tree fertilizer to maximize growth. Fertilizers with an NPK rating of 16-16-16 are normally sufficient to meet a plant’s nutrient needs.
It’s also a good idea to check the soil for nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You may determine if you require to use a certain tree fertilizer to stimulate better leaf development, flowering, or fruit production in this way.
Pests Affecting Chokecherry Tree Growth
Various pests like the chokecherry shrubs and trees attract, destroying the plant’s foliage. Brown hairy tent caterpillars, for example, may infest chokecherry trees and strip the foliage. Another pest that feeds on the underside of leaves is aphids. The tent-like webbing that prairie tent caterpillars and eastern tent caterpillars create on branches is a good indication of their presence.
On chilly days when the caterpillars are inside the tents, remove and destroy the tent-like structures to get rid of them. In the early stages, you can also use a natural insecticide like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
Aphids on foliage of chokecherry bushes and trees appear like tiny black or green flies. Turn the garden hose on the leaves until you physically get rid of aphids. You can also use a neem oil solution or horticultural soap to help reduce the aphid population.
Diseases Affecting Chokecherry Tree Growth
When the surroundings are suitable, chokecherry trees are tough, fast-growing trees that resistant to illness. Red or purple spots on leaves and fruit can be caused by bacterial leaf spot diseases such as Xanthomonas prunii and Pseudomonas syringae.
By not over-fertilizing with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, you can prevent bacterial leaf spot. X-disease, often known as mycoplasma, is another disease that affects chokecherry plants.
In July, the leaves of chokecherry turn yellowish green as a result of this disease. After that, in August, they become dark bronze. Before the chokecherry tree or shrub spreads, the only way to cure X-disease is to remove it.
Maybe you notice black swellings at the ends of branches or sunken cankers on branches. To avoid the rest of the tree getting sick, it’s important to remove and burn them in that case.