Common Chokecherry

Common Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

Common Chokecherry

(Prunus virginiana)


Family: Rosaceae or Rose

Leaves: Alternate; simple; oval to obovate; 2" to 4" long and two-thirds as wide; deciduous; dark green and glabrous above, paler beneath; sharply, finely serrate margin with spreading (mostly not in-curving) teeth; petiole 1/2" long with small, conspicuous gland or bump on each side at base of leaf blade.

Twigs/buds: Twigs slender to medium-stout; new twigs somewhat downy, otherwise glabrous with a few small round lenticels; red-brown when young turning patchy silver-gray when older; twigs often infected with black growth from black-knot disease. Terminal buds 1/4" to 1/3" long, scaly, red-brown to brown like twig; lateral buds same size or slightly smaller.

Flowers/fruit: Small white flowers appear in elongated bunches in May. Fruit a drupe; black; round; about 1/3" in diameter; edible; sour.

Bark: On young stems smooth, red-brown; on older stems turning gray-black and remaining fairly smooth with obvious lenticels that do not extend horizontally like many other Prunus species.

Wood: Not important and little known.

General: Native to most of the continental U.S., including Utah, and to much of Canada. Large shrub to small tree, usually with a multi-stemmed habit. Likes fairly moist locations with rich soils, but will do well on poorer sites. Shade intolerant.

Landscape Use: Attractive flowers and small size potentially make it a useful tree. Good for wildlife habitat plantings and windbreaks, and fruit can be used in jams and jellies. Black knot disease reduces attractiveness and vigorous sucker-sprouting can be a problem. Most commonly found in the landscape as 'Schubert' or 'Canada Red' cultivar, known for its purple-red foliage and more upright, single-stemmed habit. Zones 2-6.

Comments & Limitations:

- Fruit and/or plant part can be a nuisance; use fruitless varieties if possible. 

Common Chokecherry leaves in fall
Common Chokecherry crown
Common Chokecherry with black knot disease
Leaves, fall
Black knot disease
Common Chokecherry flowers - 'Schubert'
Common Chokecherry crown - 'Schubert'
'Schubert' flowers
  'Schubert' crown