Ninebark
Black Chokeberry
Beverly Shores Environmental Restoration Group
Black Chokeberry in Fall Color
Black Chokeberry in Fall Color

Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) is red chokeberry's little brother. It is a small-to-medium-sized shrub, growing to between three and six feet tall. Black chokberry offers brilliant red foliage in fall, attractive clusters of white flowers in early summer, and deep purple fruits that birds feast on. Other than showy bright red berries, it has all the desirable characteristics of red chokeberry, but in a somewhat more manageable size.

Black chokeberry prefers full sun but also does well in partial shade, though with fewer fruits and flowers. It is wetland plant, but once established will do well even in dry conditions. The Chicago Botanic Garden reports that

Black chokeberries are also planted extensively throughout the parking areas, where they are performing well despite the clay soil, high pH, and intense heat of those exposed sites.

Iroquois Beauty,™ probably the best known variety, was introduced by the Morton Arboretum, so it is apparent that black chokecherry does well locally. But black chokeberry does well throughout the midwest and northeast. See, for example this description of the plant growing on the High Line in New York.

Black Chokeberry in Flower
Black Chokeberry in Flower

Plantings of black chokeberry should be mulched to conserve moisture. Pruning should be done after the plant flowers in spring, with suckers pruned to control its spread and size. If you don't prune it, the suckers will lead to masses of shrubs, which can be useful as a hedgerow. The fruits are attractive to both bees and birds. The best flowering and fruiting comes when planted in full sun. Black chokeberry prefers acid soils, but will tolerate alkaline soil.

If you have questions about black chokeberry or other native or non-native plants, don’t hesitate to contact Terry Bonace (tbonace@gmail.com), Candice Smith (cmsmith2@umail.iu.edu), or Bill Schaudt (blschaudt2@gmail.com) for assistance. Also please explore our website, www.bserg.org, for further information on invasive plants and native replacements.

Beverly Shores Environmental Restoration Group,
P.O. Box 667, Beverly Shores, IN 46301