Purple Chokeberry´╗┐

Aronia x prunifolia (A. arbutifolia x A. melanocarpa)

Modest shrubs of rose family, chokeberries, are quite common in Massachusetts. Three species are present in our state: black-fruited chokeberry, red-fruited, and their hybrid, purple chokeberry. How do we recognize each of the three? Obviously, the red-fruited one must have fruits colored red; however, the other two chokeberries also turn red before ripening to a darker color. The true red chokeberry ripens the latest and remains red in November, by the time the fruits on other species become darker. Any red fruit you spot earlier than that must be unripe black-fruited or purple chokeberry, and most of the time it is the choice between the latter two that we deal with, because, according to the latest view, only two species, black and purple chokeberry are widespread in coastal Massachusetts. Having originated as a hybrid, purple chokeberry is now very common in our area, surpassing the parent species in frequency and abundance, occurring independently outside the range of one of the parents.

Look at the leaf underside: if it is hairy, light-colored, and dull, then this must be the hybrid, purple chokeberry. Black chokeberry leaves are green and shiny on the underside. Late in summer, chokeberries already "anticipate" the coming fall, sporadically producing bright orange leaves here and there and thus becoming conspicuous in the woods. Chokeberries are American plants, but they found their second home in Europe, where black chokeberry was once crossed with European mountain-ash and formed a popular horticultural hybrid with edible, medicinal fruit. This hybrid then crossed the ocean once again and is now sold here under a few names including the cultivar "Viking."

See all photos for this species at salicicola.com

Purple-fruited chokeberry, Plymouth, September 27

Purple-fruited chokeberry, August 20, East Head Reservoir, Myles Standish SF, Carver

Purple-fruited chokeberry, March 17

Black-fruited chokeberry, May 28, East Head Reservoir, Myles Standish SF, Carver

Horticultural hybrid of black chokeberry and European mountain-ash, CV 'Viking'