|Aronia melanocarpa Family: Rosaceae
Common name: black chokeberries
|Description: A medium-sized, deciduous shrub with a fairly low, spreading growth habit. The dark green, glossy leaves are obovate in shape with a rounded tip. Colour turns a wonderful purplish-red in autumn. Clusters of 5-petaled white flowers open for a short bloom period in May, followed by dark, round, edible berries in autumn. Berries first appear dark purple, maturing to black when fully ripe.
Special Notes: Native to North America, primarily the area around the Great Lakes in Canada and the United States. Once used by the native peoples as a meat preservative in preparing pemmican. More recently, it has been discovered aronia berries have wonderful health benefits. Besides being saturated with natural anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-diabetic qualities, the berries are rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols…which protect the urinary tract, stimulate the circulation and strengthen the heart. Ongoing studies are showing black chokeberries also contain compounds helpful in fighting certain cancers and heart disease. There is also ongoing research on its benefits for memory loss and cognitive deterioration.
Aronia melanocarpa has few insect or disease problems, although there is some susceptibility to leaf spots…merely a cosmetic problem. Twig and/or fruit blight could also be a slight problem.
In our Zone 7a garden: Our Aronia shrub sits at the corner of the raised bed by the steps leading up to the pond…and beyond. It was relocated to this location in 2013 after being deemed unsuitable in the first spot John placed it when the plant was purchased in 2011. I only mention this so you have some understanding its current size of about 3 feet (0.9 m) tall and roughly 5 feet (1.5 m) wide may not be its final stature. However, this shrub does lend itself to being kept in check through some judicious pruning.
This past fall (2016), I managed to beat the birds to the berries. (Warning: you must be quick! As soon as the birds…mainly robins in our garden…pronounce the berries are finally ripe enough to eat, the entire shrub is harvested in two days…three at the very outside.) I froze all of this year’s harvest in batches on a waxpaper-lined cookie sheet and transferred the frozen berries into freezer bags for later use in smoothies. Delicious.
Posted on December 17, 2016