The chokecherry tree (Prunus virginiana) is found in parts of northern United States and Canada. If you're looking for this particular tree, you are most likely to find it in certain areas such as banks of rivers and streams, edges of forests and in the countryside. The kernel of the chokecherry is rich in proteins thus this fruit formed an integral part of the staple diet of ancient Americans. The fruits of the chokecherry tree are a favorite among many species of animals such as the raccoon, bear, birds, etc. However, many people have the misconception that the shiny bright red fruits of this tree are poisonous.
Is identifying a chokecherry tree difficult? Well, not exactly but the truth is that the chokecherry tree bears at least some resemblance to many small trees that bear similar fruits. So, in order to learn how to identify the chokecherry tree, follow the pointers given below.
Chokecherry Tree Identification
While you are on the lookout for the chokecherry tree, watch out for a tree with the following characteristics.
- The height of the chokecherry tree is around 20-25 feet or 2-4 meters and its trunk is around 8 inches thick.
- Chokecherry trees have an oval-shaped canopy.
- Once you have found a tree that is similar to the description of the chokecherry in height, your next task would be to observe the leaves. Now if you are indeed looking at a chokecherry tree, you'd see that the leaves are alternately arranged and grayish green in color.
- Each leaf is about 2 inches or 10 centimeters long and broad in the middle with a pointed tip and toothed edges. You can also find two glands at the leaf base at each node.
- The chokecherry tree flowers during spring and flowers are white in color, forming clusters of around 20 flowers growing on a hanging raceme.
- Each individual flower has five petals and is attached to the raceme by a pedicel that is a quarter of an inch long.
- The fruit of the chokecherry is circular and looks like the cherry you find on cake toppings but is dark crimson to black in color. There can be as many as 20 fruits in a single cluster.
- The fruits, rich in antioxidants, have a slightly bitter taste and each fruit has a single oval shaped seed inside it.
- The bark of the tree is smooth and varies in color from reddish brown to gray. Sometimes, you may find shallow, fine ridges on the tree trunk, running parallel to the length of the trunk.
- A characteristic feature of chokecherry trees and bushes is that they have smooth branches and you won't find a single thorn on the body of the plant.
One example of a tree that appears similar to the chokecherry tree is the black cherry (Prunus serotina). It is different from the chokecherry in that its leaves are a darker shade of green, the fruits are bigger and the lenticels on the stem are more in number and hence, more closely packed. Rhamnus cathartica is another example of a plant that resembles the chokecherry. Generally known as the common buckthorn, this plant can appear similar from a distance but on close observation, you'll find that there are stark differences between the two plants. The buckthorn has spines on its branches, the leaves are smooth and oval-shaped, the flowers are yellowish in color and the fruit contains 3 seeds in it.
That was all about the most distinct features of the chokecherry tree. Hope the given information proves useful and helps you in identifying the tree correctly. However, in order to make your task of identifying the chokecherry tree easier, you can look up pictures of the tree on the Internet. Have a happy time identifying trees!