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Woody > Prunus > Prunus virginiana > Prunus virginiana var. melanocarpa

Prunus virginiana

var. melanocarpa

Choke Cherry

            Mike's Opinion

this is Mike


Chokecherry is a very important shrub in that it provides watershed protection and is a significant wildlife food plant. I would not recommend planting it as an ornamental since it is prone to many disease problems. There are many, many more worthy landscape plants with greater ornamental value. However, when planted for wildlife enhancement, it becomes an exceptional choise.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


Shrub (deciduous)
USDA Hardiness Zone
Canadian Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
(-40) - 46
Temperature (°F)
(-40) - 50
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
This plant is a large shrub or small tree, usually found growing in small clusters. Typical size for fruiting bushes is 2–5 cm in diameter and 2.5–4.5 m in height. Chokecherry are completely lacking of thorns.
Oval or rounded shrub; a very large suckering upright plant if left to grow naturally.
ID Characteristic
A shrub or small tree, growing erect to 2.5–4.5 m tall, with horizontal branches, often growing in dense thickets.
Diseases found on chokecherries include: chokecherry shothole, powdery mildew, black knot, western X-disease. Common insect pests are the prairie tent caterpillar, eastern tent caterpillar and aphids. Plum Pox: Symptoms may be confused with other diseases/disorders such as nutrient deficiencies or pesticide injuries. PPV symptoms can occur on leaves, flowers and/or fruit. Faint yellow rings or lines may be found on the leaves. PPV generally does not cause plant mortality however, can reduce the plant productivity and longevity. How to Reduce the Spread and Impact of PPV: 1. Propagate vulnerable Prunus trees and shrubs outside of the affected area a. Isolation is important to protect clean plants from future spread of the disease. b. Propagating and growing vulnerable plants away from the virus-infected area reduce the likelihood of the disease spreading any further. This should be as far away from the quarantined area and any potential sources of the virus. 2. Propagate Prunus plants with virus-free Budwood and Rootstock from virus tested mother trees a. This eliminates the propagation link for viral diseases. 3. Inspect vulnerable Prunus for symptoms a. All Prunus shrubs and trees should be visually inspected for symptoms at lease twice per year and conducted by trained personnel familiar with the virus. b. Any plants found to be infected should not be moved or sold and must be reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency immediately. c. Inspections should not be conducted in periods of hot weather (temperatures over 30˚C). 4. Manage aphid vectors a. Aphids are extremely attracted to suckers (vegetative shoots at the base of the tree), these should be removed to avoid aphid colonization, feeding or migration. 5. Plant tolerant and resistant varieties a. When available, grow plum pox tolerant or resistant Prunus varieties.
Widespread across N.W. Ontario's boreal region, north and west to southern N.W.T. and northern B.C.
Bark/Stem Description
Thin, smooth, grey-brown, conspicuous lenticels that develop into shallow fissures, young stems have shallowly peeling, curling layers.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
Buds are alternate, pale brown and pointed. Small (15-45 mm).
Leaf Description
Leaves are alternate, 3.8-6.3 cm long, broadly ovate and abruptly acuminate. Edges are sharply serrated with outward-pointed teeth. The foliage is dull green above and lighter grey-green underneath. Leaves are glaborous with axillary tufts of hair.
Flower Description
The flowers are produced in racemes of 15–30 in late spring (well after leaf emergence). Flowers are white in long, dense clusters. The fragrant flowers have 5 sepals, 5 petals and many stamen. The flowers are about 8 mm in diameter.
Fruit Description
Fruit is spherical, occasionally even with a pointed tip. They are dark purple to black when fully ripe. About 0.5-8 mm across.
Colour Description
During the autumn, leaves are golden yellow to orange or red-purple. Dense clusters of white flowers are followed by red fruit ripening to dark purple from August-September or June-August.
Texture Description
Glabrous except axillary tufts of hair. Summer texture is medium.
Seed propagation works well and is relatively easy. By seed, following cool, moist stratification of 120–160 days at 5°.