Black Chokeberry

Black Chokeberry in the Winter
Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
The black chokeberry is a species of shrub that is characterized by its black berries and glossy green leaves. During the spring, the shrub begins to grow white-colored flowers and at the beginning of autumn, it begins to grow clumps of black-colored berries. However, during the winter months, the shrub sheds its leaves and only leaves behind the berries, which can begin to whither due to the cold environment. These berries are edible and serve as a food source for local animals, such as birds.
Gabriella Gutierrez, Hillary Nguyen, Biradater Adarkwah
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
upright, fairly round, vase-like
Date of tree entry: 
2.20 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.02 m

There are too many multiple trunks to accurately measure the DBH, so this is just an estimate
The bark of the black chokeberry is dark greyish-brown in color and has a relatively smooth appearance. As the tree matures, the bark becomes darker. There are several raised pores on the surface of the bark, known as lenticels.
Twigs & branches
The fully developed twigs of the black chokeberry are a greyish-brown color. During the formation of new twig buds, they are green in color, eventually taking on the normal greyish-brown color once they reach maturity. The twigs are thin, slender and long. The average branch diameter is 4.007 mm. The average branch circumference is 12.589 mm. The average twig diameter is 1.626 mm. The average twig circumference is 5.108 mm.
During the spring, the black chokeberry begins to form glossy, light green leaves that darken over time from nodes. In the autumn, the leaves begin to change to a deep mahogany-red color. The leaves range approximately from 1 to 3 inches. Alongside the leaves, buds begin to form, which eventually grow into white-colored flowers as spring progresses. The leaves are present in an alternate condition where three buds and leaves grow from one node, but each node grows in an alternating pattern. The margins of the leaves are dentate and the apices are mucronate. The overall leaf shape of the black chokeberry is obovate.
Reproductive Structures
In mid-spring, the black chokeberry begins to grow clusters of small, white flowers with pink anthers. The flowers are perfect with 5 petals, allowing them to self-pollinate. Additionally, they also use organisms, such as bees and butterflies, to aid in their pollination. However, these flowers were not observed when surveying the plant. In the late summer, the black chokeberry begins to form small dark purple-to-black fruit containing seeds. These fruit are useful for continued reproduction as birds, rodents, small mammals, and other animals are able to consume the fruit and pass the seeds through their excrement.
The fruit of the black chokeberry are a dark purple or black in color and have a glossy appearance. The fruit grow in clusters along the branches. In the winter, the fruit begin to wither and drop, continuing through the spring. The inside of these fruit contain several seeds, ranging from 1 to 5 seeds. The fruit of the black chokeberry are considered to be pomes and are edible. The average berry radius is 0.474 cm. The average berry volume is 0.483 cm^3.
  • Black Chokeberry in the Winter (Taken 2/16/22)
  • Black Chokeberry in the Spring (Taken 4/20/22)
  • Close-up of Black Chokeberry in the Spring (Taken 4/20/22)
Natural range of distribution: 
The black chokeberry tends to inhabit moist woods but they also occupy drier thickets or clearings on cliffs or bluffs.
Origin, history, and uses: 

Origin: The black chokeberry is native to eastern North America. Specifically, it is found in the Great Lakes region and Northeastern U.S. while also extending south into the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains. 

History: This plant has been used traditionally in Native American medicine. Native American tribes have used the fruits of the black chokeberry to make a tea to treat colds. 

Uses: The black chokeberry is useful in landscaping plantings since it has white flowers in the spring and colorful red foliage and dark fruit in the fall. The shrub is also beneficial to wildlife as white-tailed deer and rabbits browse them while prairie chickens, ruffed grouse and sharp-tailed grouse feed on its fruits. Economically, the black chokeberry’s fruit is useful in the food industry. Specifically, the berries can either be canned whole or have its juice extracted to use for making jelly or fruit drinks. 


Knudson, M. 2009 Plant Guide for black chokeberry (Photinia melanocarpa (Michx.) K.R. Robertson & Phipps). USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bismark Plant Materials Center, Bismark, ND 58504.

Kokotkiewicz, A., Jaremicz, Z., & Luczkiewicz, M. (2010). Aronia plants: A review of traditional use, biological activities, and perspectives for Modern Medicine. Journal of Medicinal Food, 13(2), 255–269. 

Persson, H. A., Jeppsson, N., & Nybom, H. (2000, March). Genetic variation in wild and cultivated material of black chokeberry. In International Symposium on Molecular Markers for Characterizing Genotypes and Identifying Cultivars in Horticulture 546 (pp. 253-255).

Media and Arts

Black Chokeberry Jam Recipe

Modified and adapted from the following online sources:



  • Roughly 3-4 cups of cleaned chokeberries
  • Water
  • 12 oz sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pectin
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • Finely grated lemon zest


  1. Place the chokeberries and grated ginger into a sauce pot. Add water until the berries are almost covered.
  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer. 
  3. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture back into the sauce pot. Mix in the sugar, salt, and pectin. Bring the mixture to a boil. 
  5. Cook on high heat for a couple minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat off. Mix in the lemon zest.
  7. Allow the jam to cool. Store the jam in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Shrub Canopy Area: