Chokecherry, Prunus virginiana


Prunus virginiana

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Spring
Hardiness Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Medium, Moist, Dry
Color: White
Fragrance: Yes
Height: 12-30 feet
Spacing: 15-20 feet

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) or Virginia Birch Cherry occurs on wooded slopes, bluffs and ravines. Chokecherry is a small deciduous tree typically growing to 20-30 feet tall with an irregular, oval-rounded crown. It also may be found in shorter heights as a large shrub. Fragrant, cup-shaped, 5-lobed, white flowers in elongated clusters to 3-6 inches long bloom in mid-spring.

The flowers bloom during mid- to late spring, lasting about 1-2 weeks. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by drupes that become mature during the summer. Mature drupes are about 6-10 mm. across, bright red or dark red, and globoid in shape. Each drupe contains a single small stone (seed with a hard coat) that is surrounded by juicy flesh. The flavor of this flesh is bitter and sour. The woody root system is shallow and spreading. Sometimes clonal plants are produced from underground runners that can extend several feet. By this means, thickets of clonal plants sometimes form.

Habitats include typical woodlands and sandy woodlands, typical savannas and sandy savannas, open disturbed woodlands, woodland openings, woodland borders, wooded ravines, slopes of bluffs, stabilized sand dunes near Lake Michigan, typical thickets and sandy thickets, powerline clearances in wooded areas, fence rows, and abandoned fields. Chokecherry is a pioneer species that colonizes disturbed areas where some of the woody vegetation has been damaged, killed, or removed. While Chokecherry is easily top-killed by fire, it is able to re-sprout from its root system with little difficulty.

p>Grow in average, dry to medium, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Best flowering is in full sun. Plants will sucker to form colonies in the wild. Promptly remove suckers to prevent any unwanted spread.

This plant is remarkable for their value to wildlife. They rank 3rd in the number of Lepidoptera (butterflies & moths) that are supported on the foliage. This includes five species of butterflies such as tiger swallowtail and red-spotted purple.

 Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Susceptible to a large number of insect and disease pests.
  Wood is weak and branches may be broken by ice/snow in winter.
  Berries can be used in jams and jellies.
  Autumn foliage turns golden yellow to orange.
 Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries

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