Is this a chokecherry?

Since trying some chokecherry preserve I decided to get a tree. I started paying attention and it looks like around where I work there are all over the place. Sweet; I can engage in the life of crime I always wanted and steal a bunch of cuttings and/or seeds. There’s a small problem… there seems to be two different trees, or at the very least two varieties of chokecherries. I’m not sure so I figure I would come here and ask.

The first one I think has to be the right tree. The fruit is larger (compared to the other one. Large pit to flesh ratio. The flesh is chewy. The skin is very dark red. almost black. And the astringency… it doesn’t taste bad but it wrinkles the inside of your mouth as if you were eating green crabapples. No sweetness to speak of but that’s why God invented sugar.

The other one has smaller fruit, smaller pit, and it tastes like medicine… Obviously this is not the one I would want to reproduce but I’m still curious whether this is also a chokecherry or something else.

The ‘good’ tree:

The ‘medicine’ tree:

For comparison this is the fruits, side by side, larger is from the good tree:

The first one looks like chokecherry to me (Prunus virginiana). Plant one and wait a few years and you will find plenty of volunteers coming up. We had them at our cabin in central WI. The neighbors asked for the fruit and then brought us a jar of the jelly they made. It was very delicious.

The photos from the bad tasting tree do not look like any P. virginiana we have in my area. The bark and leaf are so different. The bark looks like amur chokecherry (Prunus maackia).


Allegedly Amur cherry is also edible but that taste was foul, bitter medicine like.

Off topic, sort of, but I wonder if anyone has attempted to cross chokecherry with bigger cherries or anything else in the prunus family? They have a great cherry flavor but that astringency and small amount of fruit means I never pick more than a few. On the plus side, as most of the cultivated cherries in this area succumb to various fungal and bacterial attacks, they just keep on growing.

i also agree. the 2nd one doesnt look right. i came across a place selling a named cultivar of chokecherry but didnt give it a 2nd look as chokecherry grows like weeds all over here. i tried a jam with them and found it wasnt too good. maybe i should try a different one. :wink:

they are full of black knot here but are so vigorous they just grow more branches.

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Yes, here they also get some bacterial ooze or some sort of canker on the trunk. Doesn’t seem to even slow them down.

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Well this has been interesting, and I got to learn neat new stuff.

The base I work at has chokecherry trees all over the place, it looks like they got them in bulk and planted them everywhere. The bad news is that most of the green ones are the amur chokecherry, inedible but now that I know what the trunk looks like easy to spot from a distance. The good news is that one of the few prunus virginiana happens to be in front of a building on a raised bed. Well raised beds can’t be mowed like trees on the ground so this particular raised bed has hundreds and hundreds of seedlings. I pulled a bunch and just finished transplanting them.

Is there a difference in quality between the berries from the red and regular green chokecherry trees?

i have both on my property and they produce the same but the summers growth darkens on the red leafed version before the fruit ripens so birds leave it alone. if you have a choice id plant the red leafed ones.

I harvested some to give them a try as jam. The jam I had the opportunity to try earlier was good and not astringent, the one I made well the astringency was not as bad as fresh fruit but it was still strong. Is there a trick to tone it down?

i wait until they are nearly black looking and softening some but not mushy. they can be tricky to pick then. i just break off the whole string. throw the bowl in the frig. for 3-4 hrs then pluck off the c. cherries into another bowl. the cold firms them up a little. try to pick on a cool cloudy day if you can. of course if they are this ripe, everything else is after them also. bears gorge on them here so be careful. i usually pick off of fields near town so its pretty safe. theyre just starting to color now. another 2 -3 weeks and theyll be ready.