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Capitol Plaza Trees Trees

  • kathie767

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

Origin: Native to North America.

Characteristics: A small tree producing astringent fruit that can be used in jellies and wines.

Fun Fact: Despite its bitter raw fruit, chokecherry is a valuable wildlife food source.


Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) is a North American native tree or shrub known for its small, tart, deep red to black fruits. Despite their astringent taste when raw, chokecherries are widely used in culinary preparations, especially in making jellies and wines, showcasing their versatility and appeal.


Chokecherry jelly is a popular homemade delicacy, especially in rural and indigenous communities where the plant is abundant. The fruits are harvested, then boiled and strained to extract a juice that is both tart and flavorful. Sugar and pectin are added to the juice, and the mixture is boiled again to produce a rich, deep purple jelly. The resulting jelly is prized for its unique flavor, which balances sweetness with a hint of tartness, making it a delightful spread on breads and pastries.


Chokecherry wine is another cherished byproduct, appreciated for its distinctive, robust flavor. The fermentation process mellows the tartness of the fruits, resulting in a wine that can range from sweet to dry, depending on the preparation. Home vintners often enjoy experimenting with chokecherry wine, which can develop complex flavors reminiscent of more traditional grape wines.


In addition to their human uses, chokecherries serve as an important food source for wildlife. Birds such as robins, thrushes, and waxwings consume the fruits directly from the trees. Mammals, including bears, raccoons, and deer, also eat chokecherries, often contributing to the dispersion of the seeds through their droppings. This interaction not only aids in seed dispersal and the propagation of chokecherry plants but also supports the dietary needs of various wildlife species, making chokecherries a vital component of their natural habitats. Thus, chokecherries enrich both culinary traditions and ecological systems, providing sustenance and enjoyment across species.

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