Content Detail

A large deciduous shrub or small, 20-foot-high, understory tree often forming a dense colony. Slender twigs form an oval to rounded crown.  Clusters of drooping white flowers are followed by dark purple fruit. Native throughout most of the United States but difficult to find in the nursery trade. Susceptible to many insect and disease problems.

This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.  

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree, Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago)
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Dry soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest mid spring, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Irregular, Oval, Round, Thicket-forming
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size & Form:

A dense, irregular large shrub to small suckering tree that reaches 20 to 30 feet high.

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 3. It is found throughout most of United States. Common in woodlands, bluffs, and ravines.

Attracts birds & butterflies:

Flowers and fruit attract birds and butterflies.

Bark color and texture:

Bark is brownish-gray with white lenticels.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Dark green 5 inch long elliptical leaves with serrated margins. Underside of the leaf is gray-green. Fall color ranges from yellow to orange.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Fragrant 3 to 6 inch long slender clusters of white flowers in late April to early May.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruit is a pea-sized purple drupe.

Plant care:

Best in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of drought and dry to medium soil.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Susceptible to many diseases and insects. Black knot, mildew, rust, root rots, fire blight, borers, mites, and tent caterpillars.


Canada Red common chokecherry (Prunus virginiana ‘Canada Red’):

Foliage emerges green, then changes to purple and, finally, red in autumn. More intense color than Schubert and faster growing.

Schubert common chokecherry (Prunus virginiana ‘Schubert’):

Foliage emerges green, then changes to purple and, finally, red in autumn.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift