Content Detail

Purple chokeberry is a multi-stemmed, large shrub with showy white spring flowers, dark green foliage, beautiful red fall color and deep purple berries. It is an excellent choice for massing in low, wet areas in the landscape.  This shrub may be difficult to find in nurseries.

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 Shrub
  • Native locale Illinois
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Alkaline soil, Dry soil, Moist, Sandy soil, well-drained soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Occasional flooding, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early fall, early summer, late spring, late summer, mid fall, mid spring, midsummer
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Columnar, Multi-stemmed, Narrow, Open, Thicket-forming, Upright
  • Growth rate Slow

Size and form: 

This is a large shrub,  8 to 12 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide shrub.

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 6.  Found growing in boggy areas, swampy woods, and along stream banks in Northeastern and Midwestern U.S.

Attracts birds and butterflies:  

This is a popular food source for migrating and winter birds.

Bark color and texture:

Young stems are reddish-brown becoming grayish-brown with age.

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

The alternate leaves are oval to elliptical, 2 1/2 inches long.  They are dark green, with finely toothed margins and  a pair of raised glands on the petioles.  Fall color is wine-red.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Showy, small, 5-petaled clusters of white flowers in the spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

A dark purple, 1/3-inch diameter juicy berry. Although edible, it is tart and bitter. Fruit ripens in August and persists into winter.

Plant care:

Purple chokeberry has a suckering habit that may require pruning in landscape situations.  It grows best in full sun and moist soil, but is tolerant of part shade in drier conditions once established.  Although it prefers acidic soil it is adaptable to other soils types.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Leaf spots, twig blights, borers.  Tolerant of wet soils and salt.

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