February 2005

Red Chokeberry - Aronia arbutifolia

Origin: Eastern USA


Continuing along the theme of biodiversity and encouraging a balance ecosystem, I would like to introduce a plant which makes a wonderful songbird sanctuary. The Red Chokeberry is native from Massachusetts to as far south as Florida. It's pretty red berries dress up the dreary winter months as well as providing a food source for songbirds such as the Black- headed Grosbeak.


The Chokeberry is very adaptable to a variety of soils, including dry or wet, and ranges from zone 4 to 9. It can grow six to ten feet in height, generally getting wider rather than taller as it matures. This tendency to become "shrubby" provides birds and other wildlife places to hide among the branches. 

Throughout the year, the Red Chokeberry provides a colorful show, starting in April with delicate white flowers. The dark green leaves change into rich reds and deep purples in the fall as bright red berries form.  

The Red Chokeberry even has a place in early American history. Settlers from England thought that it was so outstanding that in the 1700's, they sent the plant back to the old country where it was called "choke pear'.