Chokecherry – plant ID

(Question)

I have identified most plants in the garden of the house I have moved into. Can anyone help with this one?

(Answer)

This plant appears to be a small native tree or suckering shrub that grows its cylinder of flowers after leafing out in the late spring.  It is called Prunus virginiana, or more commonly known as eastern chokecherry, bitter-berry or virginia bird-cherry.  It is a typical understory tree growing to about 16ft tall.

Its flowers are fragrant and lovely and the plant is a host to various butterflies, is used to prevent soil erosion at stream banks and is attractive to a wide variety of songbirds.  However, it should be noted that it can be a host to black knot fungus.

Its berries are edible for making jams, jellys and syrups, but are extremely tart – the berry pits should be discarded as they are poisonous to humans and appropriate recipes for cooking should be followed carefully.  All other parts of the tree are poisonous to humans and also to horses and other animals with segmented stomachs such as cattle, moose, goats & deer.

For further details, please see the link below:

https://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/science-and-innovation/agricultural-practices/agroforestry/shelterbelt-planning-and-establishment/selecting-trees-and-shrubs-species/choke-cherry/?id=1345829513877