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′).

Chokecherry flowers

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 Chokecherry in our Back Garden, in front of the neighbors’ new fence. Sorry the light isn’t very good.

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’.

Chokecherry flowers

A closer look at the flowers.

Chokecherry ‘Schubert’ foliage in summer – with Hydrangea

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.

31 Comments on “The Chokecherry Is Blooming!”

  1. Beautiful but not hopeful for me! I planted some choke berry twigs from the parks department that I got for helping with an invasive species removal session. Guess I’m going to have to wait a very long time.

  2. It is supposedly native here, but I have never seen it. Native species are a fad, but only a few of the worst types are the most popular. Yes, those that are more practical for home gardens are unpopular and sometimes unavailable. When I learned about this one, I thought that it was something that was confined to the East.

  3. I remember t he fragrance of chokecherry blooms from back east, and the purple stain of the berries. We have fire engine red wild cherries around here. Some have hybridized with bing and black tartarian and make good eating, even though the fruit is smaller.

  4. What good news! It looks beautiful. I’m sure you’ll get lots of birds eating the fruit. I rennet eating fruit of this plant at summer camp(it was a dare to see who could bear such sour fruit!)
    Enjoy it and let us know what birds you get 🙂

  5. How exciting! I have multiple shrubs/trees that are at the 1 or 2 year mark and I so look forward to seeing them grow each year. I can’t wait to be at the stage you are in now. Sometimes the process seems to go so slowly, but then you look at a photo from a couple of years before and it’s such a surprise how much they’ve grown.

  6. I have both red and black chokeberries in my garden. The red chokeberry has performed well and bear lots of fruit that the mockingbirds especially like. Ont the other hand, my black chokeberry has not produced much fruit. Hope you get lots of feathered friends eating at your furture buffet.

  7. I’ve heard of chokecherry, but I’m not sure I’ve seen one. Perhaps I have, and haven’t recognized it. The flowers certainly are pretty, although it sounds like the fruit is best left to the birds. It’s always fun when patience is rewarded.

  8. Your Chokecherry looks very similar to a plant in a garden near us, and it attracts lots of birds too, I must find out the name, it may be related to your pretty Chokecherry.
    As the previous comment says, Patience has been rewarded!

  9. That is good news Jason! It brightens the barden on a cloudy day and knowing that the insects and birds can enjoy it is a bonus to the flowers. I have seen so many lovely cherry trees in gardens here, but like you say, they are susceptible to disease.

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