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.
Adenorachis melanocarpa (Michx.) Nieuwl.
Aronia arbutifolia nigra (Willd.) F.Seym.
Aronia grandifolia (Lindl.) Spach
Aronia grandifolia (Lindl.) Sweet
Aronia nigra (Willd.) Koehne
Mespilus arbutifolia melanocarpa Michx.
Mespilus arbutifolia nigra (Willd.) Britton
Photinia melanocarpa (Michx.) K.R.Robertson & J.B.Phipps
Pyrus arbutifolia melanocarpa (Michx.) Hook.
Pyrus arbutifolia nigra Willd.
Pyrus grandifolia Lindl.
Pyrus melanocarpa (Michx.) Willd.
Sorbus grandifolia (Lindl.) Heynh.
Sorbus melanocarpa (Michx.) Heynh.
Common Name: Black Chokeberry
Fruiting branch of a plant at UBC Botanical Garden, California
Photograph by: Wendy Cutler
Aronia melanocarpa is a deciduous shrub with an open, upright, spreading habit. The plant is somewhat rounded but leggy, growing 80 - 200cm tall. The plant suckers, forming in time a clump of 20 stems or more[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. Various cultivars have been developed, which are sometimes placed here or in Aronia mitschurinii. These have superior fruits and are often cultivated as a food crop. The plant is also grown as an ornamental and can be used as a hedge.
Eastern N. America - Ontario to Newfoundland, south to Arkansas, Alabama and Florida
Swamps, bogs, wet thickets, margins of ponds and lakes, beaver ponds, woods, moist high-elevation forests, rock outcrops; at elevations to 2,000 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Pollinators||Bees, Insects, Apomictic
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Plants are hardy to about -25°c.
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 is more tolerant of dry soils than other members of the genus[
There is at least one cultivar developed for its improved fruit. 'Nero' has fruits twice the size of the species with a vitamin C content of 15 - 30 mg (per 100g?). The fruit is borne in clusters of about 15, it is more flavourful and the yield is about twice that of wild forms[
]. Other cultivars developed mainly for their ornamental value include 'Viking' with extra large berries and 'Aron' with numerous large berries[
The sub-species Aronia melanocarpa elata Rehd., and Aronia melanocarpa grandifolia (Lindl.)Schneid., are more vigorous than the type species with larger flowers and fruits[
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 - cooked. A good flavour but very astringent[
]. The fruit should be fully ripe before being eaten and is best after a frost or two[
]. It makes a good jelly when sugar is added and is also dried and used for making pemmican[
]. The fruit is rich in pectin and can be added to fruits that are low in this substance when making jams etc[
]. Pectin is also said to protect the body against radiation[
]. The fruit is about 9mm in diameter[
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[
An infusion of the berries has been used in the treatment of colds[
The plant responds well to trimming and can be grown as a hedge[
The fruit is a source of pectin[
], a substance that is used to thicken jams etc and as a culture medium in laboratories.
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.
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.