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I'm getting into native shrubs more than ever before, so we planted our first red chokeberries at our new home. I've seen Aronia species forming nice thickets in gardens, but it recently hit that I have to have some too. We're starting with Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliant' and will explore the other cultivars and species too. We'll stay in touch about that!
Last summer I was able to try some fruit fresh off a friend's shrub. It was tart, but beautiful, and the juices stained my hand in a pretty way - could this be used as a dye? The nutritious fruit is used in baking and jams/jellies - not so much fresh due to the tartness.
When the white flowers appear in spring, they are splashy and showy; so are the big fruit when they ripen in July (in North Georgia) as they change from red to purple-black.
The fall color on Brilliant is, well, brilliant red. Hence, the name.
it's a colonizer that grows new branches from the roots to form a thicket - so keep this characteristic in mind while you think about where you want to plant it (we think this colonizing feature is an asset)
edible fruit, bird food
USDA Hardiness Zones
edible ornamental, flowering shrub, deciduous
Summer: medium green
Fall Leaf Color Quality
Native to USA?
East Coast, Midwest
Soil Moisture Requirements
average garden, well-drained, moist-but-draining
Soil pH Requirements
full sun, part shade
To Make It Thrive
Grow chokeberry in full sun for the best flowering and fruit production. As an edible ornamental, you want all the fruit you can get. Aronia is a highly adaptable colonizer that can take some drought (it looks a little ragged though), but loves typical garden pampering of water from the sprinkler during dry times. We read that it's adaptable to wet soils becuase it grows streamside and in bogs too.
Is this the "new" superfruit I've been reading about? Yes, Aronia arbutifolia and Aronia melanocarpa, both United States natives, are touted superfruits, full of antioxidants. What's hilarious is that they've been growing right next door all this time!