Black chokeberry: healthy wild fruit


Growth height
from 100.00cm to 200.00cm
Growth width
from 100.00cm to 200.00cm
Growth characteristics
  • Foothills
  • dense
  • bushy
  • multi-trunk
Sheet shape
  • ovate upside-down
  • tapered
Sheet properties
  • Autumn colouring
Fruit characteristics
  • edible
  • sunny to semi-shady
Soil type
  • gravelly to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • dry to moist
  • neutral to slightly acidic
Lime tolerance
  • lime tolerant
Nutrient requirements
  • moderately nutritious
Decorative or utility value
  • Fruit decoration
  • Leaf decoration
  • Medicinal plant
  • Wild fruit
  • Single position
  • free growing hedges
  • Bird protection hedges
  • Flower hedges
  • Wild fruit
Garden style
  • Farmer’s garden
  • Orchard
  • Natural garden
  • Parking facilities


The black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), also called bare chokeberry or black rowan, is a shrub from the rose family (Rosaceae). Its home is in eastern North America, where it has been valued by the Native Americans as a vitamin-rich winter food for hundreds of years. Around 1900 the Russian botanist and plant breeder Ivan Vladimirovich Mitschurin discovered it and brought it back to Russia. Because of its extreme frost resistance, it was soon cultivated on a large scale and used mainly as a source of colouring for the food and pharmaceutical industries. There are now chokeberry plantations in many Eastern European countries and in Scandinavia. The vitamin-rich fruit has been found in some isolated farms, but also in the rest of the country more and more fruit growers are discovering wild fruit as an interesting alternative to the classic fruit varieties.


The bushy shrub grows up to two meters high. With time it forms small thickets through short runners


The inverted ovate leaves are between 2 and 7.5 centimetres long. The upper side is glossy deep green, the underside lighter. When the berries begin to ripen, the leaves of the chokeberry also turn bright red. In autumn the whole shrub becomes a magnificent eye-catcher.


In May, flat umbrella panicles appear with small, pure white individual flowers bearing five petals. The inflorescences resemble the flower umbels of the rowanberry, but are slightly smaller.


In the course of the summer, the spherical, up to 8.5 millimetre thick berries of Chokeberry melanocarpa. At first they are aubergine coloured, later shiny black. If they are not plucked or eaten by birds, the fruits remain on the shrub until winter. The harvesting period extends from August to October. Like real apples, the fruits have a small core Many garden lovers tend to pick the pea-sized fruits as early as July. However, they are usually not yet ripe enough, even if the skin is already dark purple. And it is also not unusual to find fruits of different degrees of ripeness on one umbel. Before you start harvesting, you should therefore cut through some of the fruits in the middle to test whether the inside is also coloured through.


The chokeberry prefers a sunny to semi-shady place Like the sea buckthorn, the shrub is very wind resistant and tolerates salt. It is therefore also suitable for coastal regions. But it also thrives at high altitudes with low temperatures Chokeberry melanocarpa fine It even survives frosts down to minus 35 degrees Celsius without damage.


From moist loam to dry sand, the chokeberry grows in almost all soils. However, a rich fruit content can be expected especially on loose, humusy and lime-poor soils.


The optimum planting time for Chokeberry melanocarpa is autumn, once the shrub has shed its leaves. Since the shrub forms root runners, it should be provided with a generously dimensioned root barrier. Shrubs in a pot can be planted almost all year round. They do not require pruning. On bare-rooted shrubs, however, all damaged shoots should be removed and all others should be cut in half. You should also cut the main roots fresh and remove broken pieces.


The black chokeberry is generally undemanding and extremely adaptable. As a rule, you can do without fertilization, as the shrub produces good yields even without additional nutrients. However, the plant is grateful for occasional composting.


After the first year, you should remove shoots that are too close together in early spring and shorten new ground shoots by about a third so that they branch well. Every two to three years the oldest main shoots should be cut out in late winter to rejuvenate them.

The chokeberry serves both as an ornamental and useful plant and is for many hobby gardeners this is no longer an unknown quantity. Thanks to its pretty flowers and splendid autumn colours it is an eye-catcher all year round By the way, the robust chokeberry does not necessarily need a single place in the garden, but can also be integrated into a free-growing hedge. Particularly attractive combinations can be created with other autumn colouring plants such as field maple (Acer campestre) or Pfaffenhütchen (Euonymus).

While the flowers are popular with insects, their berries taste particularly good to birds. The fruits also provide us with valuable vitamins. The berries are particularly rich in vitamin C, folic acid and the secondary plant substance anthocyanin, which is well suited for the production of colouring. As an antioxidant it also binds free radicals in the body and reduces the risk of cancer Scientific studies also show that the fruits have a positive effect on the cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as having a healing effect on stomach, bladder, intestinal, liver and bile problems. However, one should not eat too many chokeberries at once, because in their raw state they have a slight laxative effect due to the ingredient amygdalin Raw, the fruits have an acidic-tart taste. They are less suitable than sweet fruits, but are good for making juice, jelly, jam or liqueur Aronia jam tastes particularly good in combination with other fruits such as currants, apples, apricots, quinces or sea buckthorn Dried berries can be used like raisins or brewed as tea.


In addition to the wild variety Aronia melanocarpa, there are now also various types of fruit from the chokeberry. The best known is the ‘Nero’ variety: it has larger umbels with up to 30 large berries and delivers regular yields. Viking’ is a selection from Finland, which also produces high yields. It is somewhat smaller than ‘Nero’. If you want to enjoy the chokeberries raw, you should choose the variety ‘Hugin’. It is particularly low in tannins and also produces high yields. Hugin’ ripens about one month later than the other varieties Their fruits are up to one centimetre thick and shiny black. The ‘Autumn Magic’ variety grows up to two metres high and bears rather large, apple-shaped fruits. Generally speaking All chokeberries are self-fertile, but the fruit set can be increased if you plant several varieties next to each other.


Chokeberry melanocarpa can be propagated by sowing, cutting in summer, dividing, runners or piling up. The chokeberry is best sown immediately after the summer harvest. Dry-stored seeds are subject to germination inhibition and must therefore be cold-stratified for 12 to 16 weeks before sowing.

Diseases and pests

The robust wild fruit is usually spared from diseases and pests.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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