With three times the antioxidants of that other superfood, the blueberry, Aronia melanocarpa, or chokeberry, may be poised to become one of the next superfood sweethearts of the nutrifood industry.
Why wait, though, when you can have a chokeberry in your own backyard? If you’ve never heard of chokeberry, you’re in the majority. Not to be confused with chokecherry, chokeberry has only recently come on to the nursery market. Chokeberry is a native shrub, 4-8 feet around and up. Not particular about soil, adaptable to either full sun or partial shade, and few pests and diseases, it’s an easy-care, high yield fruiting addition to the edible garden. It’s also ornamental with a growth habit similar to blueberry bushes, with pretty white blossoms in the spring and red fall color. The blooms attract beneficial pollinators.
What’s the catch? Well, besides having a PR-challenged moniker, chokeberry fruits aren’t for fresh eating. Very high in tannins, they have a pucker-factor that inspired its name. Reportedly, though, it is delicious in jam and as juice and pies.
I was impressed enough to buy one last year and plant it near my vegetable garden. It has bright green leaves, reddish stems, and one cluster of berries that will ripen in the fall.
It produces suckers and so I hope to be able to have some transplants to spread around other parts of the yard. One report said the berry production is only slightly reduced in part shade, so I’d like to put some along the fringes of the yard just outside the treeline and see if I can expand my fruit-producing area.