Plant for the red beauty, for a soil-holding hedge, and for the brilliant abundant gifts of native medicine!
Hardy from Zones 3-8. Up to 6 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Pollinates itself, thank you very much.
Our stretch of stream now includes several thick patches of Aronia, more commonly known as Black Chokeberry. Maybe not the most appetizing name, but an appropriate one once you’ve tasted the astringent fruit! They’ll dry your mouth out, and yet we harvest hundreds of pounds to freeze and steam for medicinal juice or syrup, high in anthocyanins and flavonoids. The berries store incredibly well when picked (and will even hang on the branch through early winter), burst with nutrients, and have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any fruit in the world. And they grow right here! The Potawatomi have used Aronia to treat the flu, as a dye, as a meat tenderizer, and as an ointment for cuts and abrasions (not to mention improve blood circulation, balance blood pressure, and help resist diabetes, inflammation, and cancer). We add a little concentrate to water or mixed drinks, and we’ve used the pulp as jam, in baking recipes, and for a natural dye!
Aronia is a member of the Rose family and native to eastern North America, from the Great Lakes down to Appalachia and up to parts of Canada. The fruit’s very popular in Europe, where some growers have reported harvesting almost 40 pounds of fruit per shrub. It grows beautifully with white spring flowers, red fall leaves, and slim branches and purple buds. The shrub provides a fruiting windbreak or hedge, draws in beneficial insects, and can tolerate wet soils and dry weather when necessary. The roots are very fibrous, which should prevent erosion. They prefer full sun but can deal with shade, though fruit harvests will be lower. Aronia only takes 2-3 years to fruit and readily suckers, which means you can keep encouraging more shoots to replace whatever dies.
We grow our Aronia from seed, dividing suckers, and from layering our riparian shrubs.