Riparian habitats such as along riverbanks and forests with moist soil
Native to much of the U.S. and parts of Canada; not as widely dispersed in the southeastern United States
Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
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.
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.
Black Elk, Linda S., Flying By Sr., Wilbur D., “Culturally Important Plants of the Lakota”, 1998, https://puc.sd.gov/commission/dockets/HydrocarbonPipeline/2014/HP14001/testimony/betest.pdf
Kaesermann, Andrew, Prunus virginiana (“chokecherry”), 2013, https://sites.google.com/a/macalester.edu/ordwipedia/traditional-ecological-knowledge-tek-from-ling-225/the-chokecherry
National Wildlife Federation, Garden for Wildlife— Regional Examples, 2021, https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/About/Native-Plants/Regional-Examples
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Plant Fact Sheet: Prunus virginiana L. chokecherry, 2021, https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_prvi.pdf
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Prunus virginiana, 2017, https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=PRVI
Tull, Delena, et al., “Edible and Useful Plants of the Southwest”, 2013, no link (book).
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Prunus virginiana L. chokecherry, 2021, https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=PRVI
IUCN Redlist, Prunus virginiana, 2020, https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/64133468/135957714
iNaturalist, Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), 2020, https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/45327684
Flora of North America, Prunus virginiana Linnaeus, 2021, http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=242417061
Image: Matt Lavin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/plant_diversity/50267332506/, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/, cropped from original.
Image: Matt Lavin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/plant_diversity/50267476507/, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/, cropped from original.
Image: Forest Service Eastern Region, https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfs_eastern_region/48764770251/, license https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/, cropped from original.
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