If you want to buy the Aronia Berry or Black Chokeberry (Aronia melancarpa) plant, you will get a deciduous shrub that can grow six feet high and wide. It grows rapidly and becomes an impressive large shrub within a year?s time. It has dark green foliage that turns red in the fall. In May, it becomes covered with little white flowers that turn into little glossy deep purple, almost black berries. Due to its aesthetic beauty, the bush is popular as an ornamental shrub in North America, and is particularly useful in absorbing swampy areas.
Fresh chokeberries right from the bush are not particularly tasty raw, being so astringent that even the birds leave them for last, or eat them as a last resort in late autumn or winter. They are full sized & still green in early August, but ripe & shiny black before August’s end, & the are least astringent after they have been through a couple of autumn frosts. If harvested they should be used primarily for juice production or pancake syrups, & will need sweetening in the process. Standard steam-method of juice extraction produces two cups of juice per pound of chokeberries. If this is mixed half with a naturally sweet apple juice, no additional sugar will be needed.
They last on the branches until late autumn or even into winter. The aronia berry is a native shrub from Eastern North America, ranging from Florida to Nova Scotia, inland as far as Indiana, & as far off as Greenland. It is terribly forgiving of growing conditions, tolerating swamp-like conditions or dryness; acid, neutral, or mildly alkaline soil; full sun or half shade (though it will not have its best appearance in too much shade); are rarely troubled by insects or diseases; & fantastically cold hardy. It is very little stressed by transplanting & a young shrub can be planted in any season with equal success.
About the only thing it can’t handle is too much heat. It?s ideal condition is a moist well-draining soil in bright sunshine. In shade it will get lankier but still a nice shrub.
It can be propagated from soft cuttings taken late spring or early summer. Take the cutting a half-inch below a node, cutting at a sharp smooth angle, touching the raw end with rooting hormone, & start it rooting in a cold frame or covered pot. A third method of propagation is merely to slice off suckers with a spade & transplanting them immediately into the areas new shrubs are wanted.
The species grown for fruit and antioxidants is Aronia Melanocarpa. There is a closely related species Aronia arbutifolia, a coastal plain species from Newfoundland to Florida and Texas.
Aronia melanocarpa seems to do better in moist soil. It seems to be a tough plant, surviving weed competition on sandy loam soil though with little growth. The foliage is handsome. A poster to the North American Fruit Explorers list reported that some strains are eligible for fresh eating and others, harsh for fresh eating, are good juiced. Most suppliers lists it as a plant for all soil types sand to clay, shade, wet soil. It seems to do alright in near full sun and would give the most fruit.
It does have a suckering, colonizing habit which means it can’t be entirely ignored if one doesn’t want it spreading about.
The plant was introduced to Russia in the late 1800s and subsequently cultivated throughout Central and Eastern European countries. The plant has been widely studied in these countries in state-directed research programs seeking to improve health through the use of natural products for food and medicinal use. It has gained popularity as a healthy food source with its fruits and juice used commercially and for home cooking in beverages, jams, fillings, wines etc. The aronia juice has a unique taste, with a pleasant tartness somewhat similar to cranberry but with sweeter low notes as in blackberry. Its juice and extracts from the berries have also been used medicinally.
Learn more about the Aronia Berry, Aronia Plant Description and the Aronia’s benefits, uses and availability: