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Aronia

Chokeberry
Rosaceae
Deciduous, Shrubs, Decorative fruit or berries

Native to southern Canada and the eastern U.S., chokeberries are tough, undemanding shrubs, useful as fillers or background plantings. Small white or pinkish flowers in clusters are pretty enough—but the fruits that follow are highly decorative and last well into winter. Fall foliage is brightly colored. All chokeberries tend to spread by suckering and are somewhat leggy (good for planting beneath). Tolerate many soils. Prune oldest stems to ground in late dormant season; restrict height and increase bushiness by heading back upright stems.

Aronia arbutifolia (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)
Aronia arbutifolia (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)

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Aronia arbutifolia

Clumping shrub to 6–8 ft. tall, with many erect stems bearing shiny leaves that are rich green above, paler beneath. Clustered, long-lasting fruits are 1/2 in. wide and brilliant red. Fall foliage is likewise bright red, and plants tend to color early. ‘Brilliantissima’ (A. x prunifolia ‘Brilliant’) has fine fall color.

Aronia melanocarpa

Typically lower than A. arbutifolia—usually 3–5 ft. tall and rarely to 10 ft. Fall foliage is purple-red. Shiny black fruits may be used for juice or preserves. Can handle soils in low, wet areas as well as dry, sandy sites. Suckers profusely; may get out of hand in small gardens. ‘Autumn Magic’ has fragrant flowers, reliable fall color, and large, long-lasting fruits.

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