Choke cherry - <em>Prunus virginiana</em> - Zone 1 -

Choke cherry - Prunus virginiana - Zone 1

Choke cherries are small, fast growing shrubs or occasionally trees. They have beautiful white flowers and dark red to black berries that are a superb base for jams, jellies, syrups, juices, and fruit leather.

HeightAvailabilityPriceQuantitySubtotal
1-3 Feetin stock$12.00$0.00
10x 1-3 Feetin stock$100.00$0.00
3-5 Feetin stock$15.00$0.00
Total$0.00

Choke cherries are extremely cold-hardy and adaptable plants with a native range that extends across Canada from coast to coast and down through to the central United States. They will manifest as either a small tree or in northern regions more often a shrub. While they can reach heights of 9 metres they will more often develop a shorter and bushier form occasionally spreading out up to 4 metres. These trees have relatively short lifespans with 40 years being a reasonable expectation but their vigorous suckering habit affords the possibility of sustaining the plantation well beyond this limit. Choke cherries have red-brown to grey-brown bark with a smooth texture that will eventually become scaly. The leaves are dark green finely toothed ovals, 8-10 cm long. In May they produce an abundance of elongated, cylindric clusters of white flowers that if pollinated will transform into small crimson/black berries over the period from mid-July to late August. Berries are up to 15mm in diameter. Choke cherries will thrive in almost any conditions, growing well in poor soil and all but the greatest extremes of wet and dry. They will do their very best in moist, well drained soils and while they can survive in partial shade, will offer the best fruit production in full sun. These trees are extremely cold-hardy growing all the way to zone 1.

Its Uses

Choke cherries and their astringent flavour are often overlooked these days but have a long history of use dating back to before European settlement of North America. They were a staple of aboriginal diets and subsequently those of the first settlers’ thanks in large part to their abundance and culinary versatility. They make some of the very best preserves, jams, jellies, syrups, and fruit leathers; all the while delivering great nutritional value. The trees themselves also possess both ornamental and functional merit. As an ornamental they are very attractive plants most valued for their extreme cold-hardiness with which other ornamental plants cannot compete. From a functional standpoint, their ability to thrive in nutrient poor soils and their extensive roots make them a great choice for land reclamation and erosion control projects. They can also be very effectively employed as a part of shelterbelt plantations. Beloved by wildlife, choke cherries will definitely attract a host of birds and mammals looking to enjoy their bountiful fruit and the protection of their branches.

 

CharacteristicValue
Height at maturity4 metres (13 feet), but variable
Spacing2.5 metres (8 feet), but variable
Hardiness zone1
SoilAll soils, very adaptable
Sun / shadeIdeally full sun, but mid-shade tolerant
FloweringMay
HarvestMid-July to late August
Average fruit weight
Fruit colorcrimson/black
Years to bear fruit
PollinationSelf-fertile
Latin namePrunus virginiana
Average diameter of fruit10 mm
Also known asBitter-berry, Virginia Bird Cherry, Western Chokecherry