Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Ell.

black chokeberry

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Black chokeberry gets its specific epithet (Melanocarpa), which means black fruit, from the black berries it produces. The common name chokeberry may come from the fact that its fruits are very bitter when eaten right off the tree. This leggy shrub can spread on suckers to grow into an attractive border thicket, which produces showy white flowers in spring and berries that attract birds in the fall.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), bogs, cliffs, balds, or ledges, fens, swamps, woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Growth form
the plant is a shrub (i.e., a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
Leaf type
the leaf blade is simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaves per node
there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Leaf duration
the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
armature on plant
the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns
Leaf blade length
30–90 mm
Leaf blade width
15–50 mm
Leaf stalk
the leaves have leaf stalks
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is fleshy
Bark texture
the bark of an adult plant is thin and smooth
Twig winter color
  • brown
  • gray
  • purple
  • red
Bud scale number
there are three or more scales on the winter bud, and they overlap like shingles, with one edge covered and the other edge exposed
Show All Characteristics
  • Buds or leaf scars
    Bud scale number
    there are three or more scales on the winter bud, and they overlap like shingles, with one edge covered and the other edge exposed
    Bud scar shape (Fraxinus)
    NA
    Collateral buds
    there are no collateral buds on the sides of the branches
    Leaf scar arrangement
    there is one leaf scar per node on the stem or twig
    Superposed buds
    there are no superposed buds on the branch
    Winter bud stalks
    the winter buds have no stalks
  • Flowers
    Anther color
    there is a noticeable pink, reddish or purplish tint to the anthers
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Enlarged sterile flowers
    there are no enlarged sterile flowers on the plant
    Flower petal color
    white
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Hairs on ovary (Amelanchier)
    NA
    Hypanthium present
    the flower has a hypanthium
    Inflorescence position
    the inflorescences grow on the twigs
    Inflorescence type
    • the inflorescence is a corymb (with long lower branches and shorter upper branches, giving it a more or less flat-topped look)
    • the inflorescence is a monochasial cyme (an axis with a terminal flower, below it a branch with a terminal flower, this branch may itself have a branch and so on)
    Number of pistils
    1
    Ovary position
    • the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    • the ovary is below the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are separate
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble leaves in color and texture
    Sepal cilia (Ilex)
    NA
    Sepal tip glands
    there are glands at the tips of the sepal lobes
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    Stamen number
    13 or more
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    black
    Fruit tissue origin
    the hypanthium of the flower becomes part of the fruit
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is fleshy
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a berry (fleshy, with the wall enclosing one or more sections, with two or more seeds)
    Nut with spines (Fagaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    there are no wings on the fruit
  • Glands or sap
    Sap color
    the sap is clear and watery
    Stalked glands on fruit (Rosa)
    NA
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is a shrub (i.e., a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
  • Leaves
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    the underside of the leaf has no hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade base symmetry
    the leaf blade base is symmetrical
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade edges (Acer)
    NA
    Leaf blade flatness
    the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    the hairs on the leaf blade are different from the choices given
    Leaf blade length
    30–90 mm
    Leaf blade scales
    there are no scales on the leaf blades
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is oblanceolate (lance-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    • the leaf blade is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
    • the leaf blade is obovate (egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    Leaf blade texture
    • the leaf blade is coriaceous (has a firm, leathery texture)
    • the leaf blade is herbaceous (has a leafy texture)
    Leaf blade translucent dots
    there are no translucent dots on the leaf blade
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base toward the tip
    Leaf blade width
    15–50 mm
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the plant is broad-leaved (with broadly flattened leaf blades)
    Leaf lobe tips (Quercus)
    NA
    Leaf midrib glands
    the midrib of the leaf blade has glands on the upper surface
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk nectaries
    there are no nectaries on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk shape
    the leaf stalk is not flattened
    Leaf teeth
    the leaf blade margin is serrate (with forward-pointing) or dentate (with outward-pointing) with medium-sized to coarse teeth
    Leaf teeth hairs (Carya)
    NA
    Leaf type
    the leaf blade is simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaves per node
    there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
    Stipules
    the plant has stipules
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • bogs
    • cliffs, balds, or ledges
    • fens
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • swamps
    • woodlands
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of an odor, or it has an unpleasant or repellant odor
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Aerial roots
    the plant has no aerial roots
    Bark texture
    the bark of an adult plant is thin and smooth
    Branch brittleness (willows only)
    NA
    Branch cross-section
    the branch is circular in cross-section, or it has five or more sides, so that there are no sharp angles
    First-year cane (Rubus)
    NA
    Lenticels on twigs
    there are clearly lenticels on the twigs
    Short shoots
    there are no peg- or knob-like shoots present
    Twig bloom
    there is no bloom on the twig
    Twig hairs
    the twigs have few or no hairs on them
    Twig papillae (Vaccinium species only)
    NA
    Twig scales
    there are no scales on the twig surface
    Twig winter color
    • brown
    • gray
    • purple
    • red
    Wings on branch
    the branch does not have wings on it
    armature on plant
    the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns

Wetland Status

Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FAC)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
widespread (S-rank: S5)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Aronia floribunda:
fruit purple and leaf blades sparsely to moderately hairy on the lower surface (vs. A. melanocarpa, with fruit black and leaf blades essentially without hairs on the lower surface).

Synonyms

  • Aronia arbutifolia (L.) Ell. var. nigra (Willd.) Seymour
  • Aronia nigra (Willd.) Koehne
  • Mespilus arbutifolia L. var. melanocarpa Michx.
  • Photinia melanocarpa (Michx.) Robertson & Phipps
  • Pyrus arbutifolia (L.) L. f. var. nigra Willd.
  • Pyrus melanocarpa (Michx.) Willd.
  • Sorbus melanocarpa (Michx.) Heynh.

Family

Rosaceae

Genus

Aronia

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

3.  Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Ell. N

black chokeberry. Aronia arbutifolia (L.) Ell. var. nigra (Willd.) Seymour; A. nigra (Willd.) 
Koehne; Mespilus arbutifolia L. var. melanocarpa Michx.; Photinia melanocarpa (Michx.) Robertson & Phipps; Pyrus arbutifolia (L.) L. f. var. nigra Willd.; P. melanocarpa (Michx.) Willd.; Sorbus melanocarpa (Michx.) Heynh. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Woodlands, balds, peatlands, swamps, roadsides.

Sorbus aucuparia L. ×Sorbaronia fallax (Schneid.) Schneid. is a rare intergeneric hybrid that sometimes escapes cultivation in New England (it is known from MA, ME). The nothogenus is recognized by characters described under hybrids of Aronia arbutifolia. This nothospecies is nearly glabrous in the inflorescence, along new branchlets, and on abaxial leaf surfaces and it has a black pome.