Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry)

Michael's Opinion

The Chokecherry is a very important shrub for providing watershed protection, and as a significant wildlife food plant. It is also easily adapted for many uses, around homes, offices, and recreational areas, making it a very diverse shrub.

Botanical Information

TypeShrub (deciduous)
OriginEuropean settlers adopted the use of chokecherries in some areas, particularly the northern plains. In such localities they have been traditionally used for jam, jelly, wine, and syrup.


USDA Hardiness Zone2 - 7
USDA Hardiness Ref.
Canadian Hardiness Zone0a - 6b
Canada Hardiness Ref.
RHS Hardiness ZoneH5 - H7
RHS Hardiness Ref.
Temperature (°C)-46 - (-15)
Temperature (°F)-50° - 5°
Height6 - 10 m
Spread4 - 6 m
Flowering PeriodApril, May

Description and Growing Information

General DescriptionThis plant is a large shrub or small tree, usually found growing in small clusters. Typical size for fruiting bushes is one to three inches in diameter and eight to fifteen feet tall. Chokecherry bushes are completely absent of thorns.
ID CharacteristicA shrub or small tree, growing erect, 2-8 m, with horizontal branches, growing in dense thickets.
ShapeOval or rounded small shrub. A very large, suckering, upright oval shrub if left to grow naturally.
LandscapeChokecherry is widely regarded as an important wildlife food plant and provides habitat, watershed protection, and species diversity. This plant is well adapted for use around homes, office buildings, and recreational areas.
PropagationSeed propagation works well and is relatively easy. By seed, following cool, moist stratification of 120-160 days.
CultivationPlace seeds during the autumn in drill rows 50 cm apart. Cover the drill with 1.5 cm of soil. Plant in well drained soils, in sunny locations.
PestsDiseases found on chokecherries include: chokecherry shot hole, powdery mildew, black knot, western X-disease. Common insect pests are the prairie tent caterpillar, eastern tent caterpillar and aphids.
Notable SpecimensJoany’s Woods, West Williams, Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada.
HabitatWidespread across northwestern Ontario's boreal region, north and west to the southern North West territories and northern British Columbia.
Bark DescriptionThin, smooth, grey-brown, conspicuous lenticels that develop into shallow fissures, young stems have shallowly peeling, curling layers.
Bud DescriptionBuds are alternate, pale brown and pointed. Small 15-47 mm.
Leaf DescriptionLeaves are alternate, 3-5 cm long, broadly ovate and abruptly acuminate. The edges are sharply serrated, with the teeth usually pointed outward. The foliage is dull green above and lighter greyish green underneath.
Flower DescriptionThe flowers are produced in racemes of 15-30 in late spring (well after leaf emergence). Flowers are white and in long, dense clusters. The fragrant flowers have 5 sepals, 5 petals, and many stamens. The flowers are about 1 cm across.
Fruit DescriptionFruit is spherical, occasionally even with a pointed tip. They are dark purple to black when fully ripe. About 5-7 mm across.
Colour DescriptionDuring the autumn leaves are golden yellow to orange or reddish purple. Dense clusters of white flowers are followed by red fruit ripening to dark purple from August to September or June to August.
Texture DescriptionGlabrous except axillary tufts of hair.