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Prunus virginiana
About Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) Nurseries Show All Photos Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana) is a species in the Rosaceae (Rose) family, in the Bird Cherry (Padus) subgenus. It is native to North America where it is found almost throughout the continent except for the deep south and the far north. The plant is widespread in California, particularly in the mountains. It is a suckering shrub or small tree growing to 5 meter tall. The leaves are oval, 3-10 centimeter long, with a coarsely serrated margin. It is deciduous, and the leaves provide some fall color. The flowers are produced in racemes of 15-30 inches late spring (well after leaf emergence). The fruits are about 1 centimeter diameter, range in color from bright red to black. Although they are said to be edible, they contain small amounts of cyanide, especially when unripe. The very ripe berries are dark in color, less astringent, and contain less cyanide. Despite the potential toxicity, the fruits were valued by many Native people.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Tree, Shrub

Max. Height
15 - 25 ft (4.6 - 7.6 m)

Max. Width
10 - 20 ft (3.0 - 6.1 m)


Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate

Winter Deciduous

Flower Color

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Rocky slopes

Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade

Elevation ?
19' - 11853'

Annual Precip. ?
6.5" - 133.8"

Summer Precip. ?
0.16" - 3.87"

Coldest Month ?
17.0° F - 52.5° F

Hottest Month ?
38.0° F - 77.3° F

Humidity ?
0.04 vpd - 28.80 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils

Soil Texture
Loam, Sandy Loam, Silt, Silt Loam

Soil PH
5.2 - 8.4


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -15° F

Companion Plants
Use under trees such as Pines (Pinus sp.), Firs (Abies sp.), Oaks (Quercus sp.), Madrone (Arbutus sp.), Cottonwoods (Populus sp.), and Willows (Salix sp.), and with shrubs such as Dogwood (Cornus sp.), wild Roses (Rosa sp.), and Currant/Gooseberry (Ribes sp.).

Wildlife Attracted
Insects are attracted to the flowers. Many types of birds are attracted to the fruits. Bears may stop by and eat the fruits as well!

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low, Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Pest Control
Common pests include the prairie tent caterpillar and aphids. Chokecherry is also susceptible to black knot, stem decay, shothole, Valsa canker, and honey fungus.

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: 3 mos. stratification; 2 wks. warm stratification first may improve germination.

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Hedges, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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