Ninebark
Red Chokeberry
Beverly Shores Environmental Restoration Group
Ninebark in flower
Red Chokeberry in Fall

How is this for a recommendation? The Ohio Landscape Association has plant recommendations for “Plants Deer Eat Less Often.” Here is what they say about red chokeberry:

Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’ (Brilliant Red Chokeberry): Grows to 6 or 8 ft. in height. Has abundant white flowers in spring followed by clusters of red fruit in the fall. Foliage is lustrous green, turning brilliant red in fall. Excellent for border or massing.

In a Boston Globe article entitled “Why is burning bush species non grata?” after noting that “Burning bush has been found to be so invasive that its importation and sale are prohibited in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. If you have it, you should remove it and plant something else,” the article offers this recommendation: “Good native-plant substitutions with rich fall color include chokeberry (especially Aronia “Brilliantissima”)…”

Dart's Gold Ninebark
Red Chokeberry Flowers

And, from Chicago's Lurie Garden:

Aronia arbutifolia (red chokeberry) is a shrub that is showy all year round and particularly bird friendly.

In spring sweetly scented white blooms with red stamens attract pollinators. In fall the dark, green elliptic leaves turn a powerful red. A very colorful finish to a growing season with this beautiful shrub.

In winter, crimson fruit dangles from the ends of long pedicels along the branches of this medium to large shrub. The birds avoid eating this bitter fruit until it ferments over the winter and becomes sweet, attracting the spring migratory birds. In this way it provides beauty to people all winter, but sustains our growing bird population in spring.

Aronia arbutifolia is located in the elevated strip along the sidewalk of the Monroe Street side of Lurie Garden. We’ve named this planted area the “Bird Boarder” as the plants there were chosen to be a source of refuge and food for birds year-round.

Red chokeberries
Red Chokeberry “Bird Boarder”

So a native plant that deer do not care for, one that provides fall color and is easy to grow? A plant that attracts birds and provides winter interest? What's not to like about red chokeberry?

Red chokeberry grows best in moist soil, but is tolerant of dry conditions once established. It 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. It will take either sun or partial shade.

If you have questions about red 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