Chokecherry is a perennial, woody shrub or tree that is typically 10 to 25 feet tall. Though it can sometimes reach the midstory, Chokecherry generally grows outward more than it grows upward, making even tall specimens more shrublike than treelike in appearance. Chokecherry is monoecious, meaning that individuals have both male and female parts, and has numerous flowers at the tips and small lateral shoots of branches. Each tip has 20 to 50 short-stalked flowers about 1/3” across. Its oval and serrated leaves are simple and alternate. Its bark is brownish gray to gray with pale horizontal pores known as lenticels. Chokecherry’s name come from its bitter-tasting fruit, spherical berries with a stone in the center that are 1/4 to 3/8 inches in diameter.  


Chokecherry flowers attract a variety of organisms, including flies, honeybees, and hummingbirds. Many kinds of wildlife, like rabbits and Cedar Waxwings, eat Chokecherry’s grape-like fruits, dispersing the many thousands of seeds that this plant produces. The seeds themselves are protected from seed predators by hydrogen cyanide and are generally avoided.  


Chokecherry is one of the most abundant and widespread shrubs in North America. It inhabits landscapes as diverse as prairie margins, shady forest interiors, and swamps. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil pH and moisture, making it a good choice for native landscaping. 

In the Arb: 

Chokecherry is common along forest edges in the Arboretum and can also be found in Stork Forest and Best Woods.