Aronia Berries – What’s Their Potential?

Aronia (Aronia melanocarpa / Photinia melanocarpa), sometimes called black chokeberry, is a deciduous shrub native to eastern North America, used by landscapers primarily for its clusters of creamy white flowers in late spring, and colorful flame-colored autumn foliage contrasting with dark berries. The thick bushes grow to 6 to 8 feet in height, and are sometimes used as a windbreak in border plantings. Aronia requires a damp, acid soil with sufficient rain during the growing season. The pea-sized, violet-black berries are harvested in autumn. Berries have a strong, stable and natural color, with a dry and sour strong flavor. For those interested in a dual-purpose plant for edible landscaping, the recent introduction “Autumn Magic” from the University of British Columbia was selected for large fruit size, superior fall color and overall form.

Aronia was well known to natives and early settlers, but has not been commercially cultivated in the U.S. since the turn of the century. However, in Denmark, eastern Europe and Russia (especially Siberia) the strongly colored, pungently flavored fruit is quite popular for juice and even wine production. Breeding programs there have produced fruiting clones that are highly productive, and amazingly uniform in berry size and quality. For the best fruit production, clones that have been selected for high yield should be chosen, rather than those intended for landscaping. Plants from these breeding lines, for example “Nero” and “Viking,” are available from several specialist nurseries such as Raintree and One Green World.  Full Article by Jacqueline King, WSU – Mount Vernon

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