|Aronia subsp. var.||Chokeberry|
The chokeberries (Aronia) are two species of deciduous shrubs in the family Rosaceae, native to eastern North America and most commonly found in wet woods and swamps. The two species are readily distinguished by their fruit color, from which the common names derive. The leaves are alternate, simple, and oblanceolate with crenate margins and pinnate venation; in autumn the leaves turn a bold red color. Dark trichomes are present on the upper midrib surface. The flowers are small, with 5 petals and 5 sepals, and produced in corymbs of 10-25 together. Hypanthium is urn-shaped. The fruit is a small pome, with a very astringent, bitter flavor; it is eaten by birds (birds do not taste astringency and feed on them readily), which then disperse the seeds in their droppings. The name "chokeberry" comes from the astringency of the fruits which are inedible when raw.
The chokeberries are attractive ornamental plants for gardens. They are naturally understory and woodland edge plants, and grow well when planted under trees. Chokeberries are resistant to drought, insects, pollution, and disease. Several cultivars have been developed for garden planting, including A. arbutifolia 'Brilliant', selected for its striking fall leaf colour, and A. melanocarpa 'Viking' and 'Nero', selected for larger fruit suitable for jam-making.
Aronia is closely related to Photinia, and has been included in that genus in some classifications (Robertson et al. 1991).
Red chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia, grows to 2-4 m tall, rarely up to 6 m. Leaves are 5-8 cm long and densely pubescent on the underside. The flowers are white or pale pink, 1 cm diameter, with glandular sepals. The fruit is red, 4-10 mm diameter, persisting into winter.
Black chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa, tends to be smaller, rarely exceeding 1 m tall, rarely 3 m, and spreads readily by root sprouts. The leaves are smaller, not more than 6 cm long, with terminal glands on leaf teeth and a glabrous underside. The flowers are white, 1.5 cm diameter, with glabrous sepals. The fruit is black, 6-9 mm diameter, not persisting into winter.
The two species can hybridise, giving the Purple Chokeberry, Aronia x prunifolia. Leaves are moderately pubescent on the underside. Few to no glands are present on the sepal surface. The fruit is dark purple to black, 7-10 mm in diameter, not persisting into winter.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Aronia (modification of Aria, a subgenus of the allied genus Sorbus). Rosaceae. Chokeberry. Ornamental shrubs grown for their attractive white flowers and for their handsome fruits, and also for the bright autumnal tints of the foliage.
Low plants: Lvs. deciduous, short-petioled, finely and crenately serrate, glandular on the midrib above, convolute in bud: fls. in small corymbs, white; calyx 5- lobed, petals 5, spreading; stamens numerous; ovary 5-celled, woolly at the top, with 5 styles united at the base, the carpels connate but partly free on their ventral suture: fr. a small pome, flesh without grit-cells top hemispherical.—Three closely related species in E. N. Amer. Closely related to Sorbus, which is easily distinguished by the sharply or doubly serrate, often pinnate Lvs. folded in bud and without glands above, by the usually 2-3-celled ovary with the carpels connate on their ventral suture, otherwise often partly free, and by the conical top of the fr.: quite distinct in general appearance and habit and suggesting more an affinity with Amelanchier.
The aronias are small shrubs with simple deciduous leaves turning bright red in autumn and with white flowers in small corymbs followed by berry-like, red, purple or black fruit. Well adapted for borders of shrubberies and quite hardy North. A. melanocarpa is handsomest in foliage and bloom, particularly the var. grandifolia; its fruit ripens in August, but soon shrivels and drops, while A. atropurpurea and A. arbutifolia have showier and usually more numerous fruits; those of A. atropurpurea ripen in early September and shrivel at the beginning of the winter, while those of the last- named species ripen later and remain plump and bright far into the winter.
They prefer moist situations, but A. melanocarpa also grows well on drier and rocky soil. Propagation is by seeds sown in fall or stratified; also by suckers and layers, or by greenwood cuttings under glass.
A.floribunda, Spach (Pyrus floribunda, Lindl.). Hybrid between A. arbutifolia and A. melanocarpa, similar to A. atropurpurea, but usually more glabrescent. B.R. 12:1000. G.W. 5, p. 246.—It is of garden origin and several forms of it are in cult.
Pests and diseases
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963