Description, cultivation and planting

Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott) is a species of shrub with black fruits originating in North America, where it grows wild. Currently, there are bout several cultivars of chokeberry. One of them is Galicjanka selected in Poland. Apart from black chokeberry, there are also two other kinds: red chokeberry and purple chokeberry.


Species: Black chokeberry - Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott 
Family: Rosaceae 
Genus: Aronia 
Habit: long-lived shrub, up to approx. 2m high, exceptionally up to 3m, diameter at least 1.5 – up to 2m. In order to obtain a form of a tree, the plant should be shaped properly or grafted onto the stock of an European rowan. 
Foliage: alternate, dark green, oval with crenate margins, up to 6cm long. In autumn: orange to blood red colour.

Flowers: small, white, pinkish, star-shaped with red stamina, 20-30 in form of a panicle. Blooms in the second half of May (in Poland) and in April/May (South Europe). Owing to the late time of blooming the flower is rarely damaged by frost.

Fruit: Small fruits are brown-green, ripe fruits are dark blue, almost black, covered with a subtle fluff. Diameter of ab. 10-14mm, weight: 1.0-1.5g. Similarly to rowan fruits, they grow in panicles. Berries taste sweet, tight and have aromatic flesh with dark red juice.

Ripening: in Poland – second half of August/beginning of September. In South Europe – most probably earlier. Chokeberry fruits ripe evenly and are soft, yet durable in transport and storage. The plantation productivity period is estimated at over 20-25 years. Annual productivity for fruits per one shrub is estimated at 10-15kgs, 15-20 t/ha at average.

Root system: complex and spreading, diameter similar to the diameter of the shrub. Shallow (0.5-0.8m under the surface), with the primary root located 1-1.5m below the ground.

Pests and diseases: chokeberry is exceptionally resistant to pests and diseases, therefore it does not require any chemical protection.

 Cultivation: Chokeberry is very easy to cultivate. It has modest requirements. It may be grown almost everywhere, even on V and VI-class soil. The most advantageous reaction is from light acid reaction to neutral (pH = 5.5-7.0), though it may even grow on alkaline soil. Chokeberry adapts to new differentiated habitat conditions. It grows well on arid sites and in locations with high water table conditions. It accepts both sunny and partly shady sites. Frostproof – tolerates low temperatures (even -35 °C). 
Shoots that are 2 to 5-6 years old are the most productive. In order to keep the high efficiency and quality of fruits and the good condition of shrubs, weaker and older shoots ought to be systematically cut. It should be done in autumn, after bearing is done, or in spring before blooming.

The best period for planting is autumn, that is in October and November. Planting may be also done in early spring, though it should be done scrupulously and the plant ought to be watered several times even just after planting. 

As a colourful plant with white dense blossom in spring, dark blue/black fruits shaped like a rowan bunch in the second half of summer and in colourful leaves in autumn, chokeberry may be cultivated as an ornamental plant due to its exceptional decorative qualities.

Useful links

Wikipedia Ekogwarancja Ministerstwo Rolnictwa Państwowa Inspekcja Ochrony Roślin i Nasiennictwa Narodowy Fundusz Ochrony Środowiska i Gospodarki Wodnej Agencja Rynku Rolnego ARiMR - Agencja Restrukturyzacji i Modernizacji Rolnictwa Krajowa Rada Izb Rolniczych Instytut Ekonomiki Rolnictwa i Gospodarki Żywnościowej - Państwowy Instytut Badawczy

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