Chokecherry is scientifically represented as Prunus virginiana, and known by the common name Canadian chokecherry tree. Classified under the rose family, Rosaceae, it is a relative of other fruits like sweet cherries, apricots, plums and peaches. Ripe chokecherries are not as popular as the domestic cherries that all of us are familiar with. However, the fruit demand is high in processing industries, and planting chokecherry trees is preferred by fruit growers. You can also consider growing this fruiting tree in your yard.
Identifying a Chokecherry Tree
A North American fruiting plant by origin, the chokecherry is a medium or large shrub that grows to a height of about 7 m or less. Based on the growing conditions and planted cultivar, it may develop as a small tree (9 - 13 m) in height. Basically, it has multiple stems and grows as a thick bush or tree. The bark is thin, light gray or brownish, and smooth. The leaves are rough textured, oval-shaped, 1½ - 2½ inch long and have a wider apex, as compared to wild black cherry. They are borne in alternate phyllotaxy.
The blooming period for this tree lasts from April through June, and peak fruit production is from July till October. The five petaled flowers are small, delicate, white colored and borne in clusters (raceme inflorescence). They mature into small-sized fruits, which are developed in clusters of 8-20 cherries. The fruits turn dark-colored (dark purple or black) at ripe stage, and have a tart flavor and somewhat bitter taste. As autumn arrives, the leaves become red and deep maroon color, adding fall interest to the landscape design.
Tips in How to Plant a Chokecherry Tree
Dense shrubbery habit, lovely white blooms and high fruit yield are the desirable characteristics of this tree. Indeed, chokecherry serves as a true ornamental tree during late spring to early summer. Also, it is cultivated on a mass scale as windbreaks and for harvesting leaves and fruits. With minimal care and maintenance, it produces heavy blooms and fruits. If you want to include it in your fruit orchard, the following are some useful tips on how to grow chokecherry trees.
Select Sunny Location
Similar to other cherry trees, this tree grows best and develops healthy blooms when grown in full sunlight. However, if your garden is located in a shaded region, select a partial shade location for planting chokecherry. Make sure that the plantation site is spacious enough for providing room to this dense growing tree.
Prepare Planting Soil
The ideal time to grow chokecherry tree is late fall season or winter. Accordingly, prepare garden soil to meet the requirements of this fruiting tree. It should be moist, well-drained and rich in organic matter. Loosen soil and remove large rocks from the area. Also, remove unwanted plants and weeds from the location.
Make a planting hole, and supplement farmyard compost in the soil before introducing the young tree. The hole should be slightly bigger than that of the root ball size. Place the young chokecherry sapling in the hole, and refill soil in the hole. Also, do not forget to place a stake near to the plant. Tamp soil to get rid of air pockets.
Chokecherry Tree Care
After plantation, deeply water the sapling, making sure that soil is soaked well. Continue watering the young plant on a daily basis, until it gets established to the area with proper root system. After this, you can reduce watering. A good gardening trick is to mulch around the plant. This will control weed growth and conserve soil moisture.
In winter, the young tree enters its dormancy period. Following this, you can fertilize the soil in spring time to boost new growth. Keep a watch over the plant for aphids and fungal infections. During the peak blooming season, birds will visit your chokecherry tree. The harvested fruits can be used in making chokecherry syrup, juices, jams, jellies, sauces and many other savory dishes.