Only a few weeks ago I was complaining about how our ‘Schubert’ Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) had never bloomed, and now – it’s blooming! I guess patience has been rewarded, since this tree was planted 6 years ago as a bareroot whip less than 3′ tall (it’s now about 15′).
The dense white flower clusters are not numerous, but may become more so over the years. However, they are delightfully fragrant and attract large numbers of native bees (including bumblebees, Andrenid, and Halactid bees) as well as honeybees.
The intensely sour fruit is eaten by many species of songbirds – Bluejays, Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Cedar Waxwings, Scarlet Tanagers, and several Woodpeckers, for a start. Fruit set is heavier if there is more than one tree, which is why I planted one in the Back Garden and another on the east side of the house (both are blooming).
The cultivar ‘Schubert’ has foliage that starts out green in spring and turns purple in summer. While the species is a host plant for many butterfly and moth species, research indicates that purple-leaved cultivars are less attractive to caterpillars. In terms of gardening purely for wildlife, the straight species is better than ‘Schubert’.
A closer look at the flowers.
Chokecherries are native to Illinois and most of the USA outside of the South. Like other Prunus species, they are vulnerable to a number of diseases. Planting them is a bit of a crap shoot, but I figure the risk is limited because cherries are fairly uncommon in our immediate area.
Looking forward, I can’t wait for the birds and berries – and mounds of blossom for years to come.