The genus Aronia has been variously treated by botanists. The species intergrade, and this has led some botanists to treat the genus as comprising a single, very variable species (Aronia arbutifolia), whilst others have treated it as comprising several distinct species. We are following the current (2016) treatment of the genus in the Flora of North America, which recognizes two distinct species plus a naturally occurring hybrid between the two[
]. In addition, another species of hybrid origin is recognized here (Aronia mitschurinii A.K.Skvortsov & Maitul.), though this is likely to be recognized as a bigeneric hybrid (Sorbaronia mitschurinii (Skvortsov & Maitul.) Sennikov) in the future[
Historically, species in the genus have been assigned variously to Adenorachis, Crataegus, Halmia, Malus, Mespilus, Pyrus, and Sorbus. More recently it has been included in Photinia, but a phylogenetic analysis by C. S. Campbell et al. (2007), using chloroplast and nuclear DNA sequence data, did not find a close relationship between Aronia arbutifolia and Photinia villosa.
Species in the genus hybridize with some Sorbus species (forming the intergeneric hybrid ×Sorbaronia C.K.Schneider), and the genus as a whole has sometimes been treated as a subgenus or section of Sorbus.
× Sorbaronia mitschurinii (Skvortsov & Maitul.) Sennikov
Close-up of the ripening fruit
Photograph by: Bff
Aronia mitschurinii is a deciduous shrub with an open, upright, spreading habit, growing 80 - 200cm tall. The plant suckers, forming in time a clump of 20 stems or more[
The plant is cultivated on a commercial scale for its fruit, which is used for making juices, jams etc. It can be grown as a hedge.
Not known as a wild plant, the species was developed in cultivation.
Not known in the wild
Aronia mitschurinii is very cold-hardy, tolerating temperatures down to around -50°c when dormant[
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It prefers a moist peaty soil, but has a wide range of soil tolerance including boggy soils. It dislikes shallow soils over chalk[
This species has been developed from plants of Aronia melanocarpa which were originally taken from N. America to Russia and cultivated there for their fruit. It is believed that hybridization with Sorbus aucuparia has led to a more robust and much less variable species, one that is worthy of specific recognition. This plant is now often cultivated in Russia and named forms have become available in other parts of the Temperate zone[
This genus is closely related to Sorbus species and has been shown to hybridize with them[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. The relatively large fruits are suitable for juice, wine, and jam-making. Juice from the ripe berries is astringent, sweet (with high sugar content), sour (low pH), and contains vitamin C. In addition to juice, the fruit can be baked into soft breads.
The fruits of Aronia species are potentially a very healthful and tasty addition to the diet. Although many wild forms are less than pleasant to eat, various forms with superior fruits have been selected (or developed through selective breeding). These forms are often available from plant nurseries, and some are grown commercially on a wide scale for use in juices, to make jams, wines and as a flavouring for other drinks[
]. These cultivars are generally assigned to Aronia melanocarpa or Aronia mitschurinii, though it should be possible to select superior fruiting forms from any of the species[
The plant responds well to trimming and can be grown as a hedge[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in pots outdoors or in a cold frame[
]. Pre-soak stored seed overnight and then cold stratify for 3 months at 2°c[
]. The seed germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15°c[
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in late spring. Although this species is of hybrid origin, it has been shown to breed true from seed[
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, mid summer in a frame[
Division of suckers in the dormant season[
]. Very easy, they can be planted straight out into their permanent positions.