Chokecherry

Scientific Name:

Prunus virginiana

Type:

Shrub

Habitat:

Riparian habitats such as along riverbanks and forests with moist soil

Range:

Native to much of the U.S. and parts of Canada; not as widely dispersed in the southeastern United States

Status:

Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Chokecherries are small, dense deciduous trees or shrubs with red or black berries and brownish to gray bark that darken over time. These berries are about ¼ inch to ⅜ inch in diameter. Chokecherry shrubs may grow about 20 to 30 feet tall and produce clumps of white flowers. Leaves are a shiny dark green and turn yellow in autumn. The berries, stems, leaves, and bark of the chokecherry plant are all poisonous to humans.

Fast Facts:

  • Tent caterpillars commonly spin their webs through the branches of chokecherry shrubs.

  • Wildlife such as deer, small mammals, birds, and bears eat chokecherry as part of their diets and many animals utilize all major parts of the plant, especially the fruits and leaves.

  • Although chokecherry fruits are toxic to humans, this poison may be neutralized when properly prepared and offer a variety of uses. Treated parts of the plant can be used in teas, jams, butters, and sauces, to name a few applications.

  • Chokecherry shrubs are important to native bees that pollinate the plants in large numbers.

  • Here in the Truckee Meadows, chokecherries can be found at Oxbow Nature Study Area. 

  • Chokecherry plants may have varied physical characteristics, so the species contains many subspecies that have different traits and geographic distributions.

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Victoria Wrubel (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

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