Medium-sized shrub, native to North America; it develops numerous erect stems, densely branched, which reach 90-150 cm in height. The lanceolate leaves are bright green in colour, they become reddish or orange in autumn, before falling. In late spring, it produces large bunches of white-pink flowers, with five petals; in late summer, the flowers are followed by small round, hanging fruits, which become black when ripe. The fruits of chokeberry melanocarp are edible.
These shrubs have a dense development, to avoid that they lose the leaves in the inner areas, it is advisable to prune the old stems at the base, every 3-4 years.
Melanocarp harony is a deciduous shrub belonging to the family Rosaceae. It comes mainly from the humid forests of the eastern United States.
The genus is composed (depending on the classifications) of two or three species plus an interspecific hybrid.
They are included in the green spaces both for their ornamental qualities and for the fruits produced: recently, in fact, their consumption has spread by virtue of their beneficial qualities. They can be eaten raw, even if, generally, they undergo some processing in order to significantly improve their taste. In the natural state, in fact, they are particularly acidic. Once cooked, the harshness disappears, giving way to a very sweet taste.
It produces juices, jams, sauces. They are also used to flavour herbal teas, chewing gum and ice cream. They are also used extensively to produce natural dyes (especially the intense pink, given the massive presence of anthocyanins). However, they are particularly rich in vitamins (such as C, B1 and B2, in addition to provitamin A), in fiber and flavonoids and therefore considered a real panacea for the health of the heart, to reduce blood sugar in diabetics and as antioxidants to combat aging.
Family and gender
aronia, 3 or 4 species
Type of plant
Caducous leaf tree
Full sun, half shade
Not demanding, possibly sub-acidic and fresh, not calcareous,
Regular, avoid stagnation
In spring with products for fruit plants
White or pink flowers, red, black or dark blue fruits
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The arony, as we have said, counts three species of fallen shrubs. They are very appreciated for their compactness and because they give the autumn garden some beautiful warm colours, thanks to the colours of their leaves. They also produce beautiful black or red berries, shiny, about the size of a pea.
The shrub, as a whole, measures from 1.5 to 3 meters in height and has a slightly enlarged and decumbent habit. The underground apparatus is rather superficial, composed of fine, fibrous roots. The leaves are narrow, 5 to 8 cm long, alternate, with finely indented edges. The colour is a bright green which, by the arrival of autumn, turns to red, orange and purple.
Like apples, it produces small bunches of white flowers, very decorative, formed by 5 small petals, which irresistibly attract the bees. The corymbs include from 10 to 25 flowers, in mid-spring, hermaphrodite and therefore capable of self-feeding: we will not be obliged to plant two plants of the same species in order to obtain the fruits.
They always look for damp environments, such as undergrowths.
The berries are an unstoppable attraction for small birds.
The name chokeberry comes from the Greek and joins the plant to the sorb.
Locate in a sunny or semi-shady place; they are not afraid of the cold and can bear very harsh temperatures. They are also suitable for use in road beds, as they tolerate without problems pollution, and also the salty air of marine areas. Even if, in the spontaneous state, it grows in poorly illuminated areas, such as undergrowths, when employed for the production of fruits or for ornamental purposes, it is preferable to place them always in full sun.
This is because in a very hot area the flowering, pollination and fructification are considerably greater.
Moreover, the sun directly on the foliage guarantees a brighter autumn colour to the entire bush, making it the real protagonist of the garden during that period.
However, if we do not have such a position we can easily be satisfied with an exposure to half a shade, the important thing is that it is not too thick. The ideal in that case is to place them under deciduous trees.
These shrubs do not tolerate prolonged periods of drought; from March to October it is advisable to water regularly, if the rains are not frequent. During the winter months they can remain in dry soil. They develop without problems even in moist or wet soil.
Melanocarp harony absolutely doesn’t want arid soil. It is therefore important to ensure that the substrate is able to retain water and improve its texture.
Irrigation should be frequent, especially in summer and if the exposure is full sun: natural rainfall is rarely sufficient to meet its water needs. Let’s therefore do our best to intervene quite frequently and absolutely avoid that the soil dries completely. As we have said, in fact, the root system is rather superficial and the plant is not able to reach the humidity present in the deep layers of the soil.
In order to significantly reduce the frequency of operations, we can prepare a thick layer of mulch based on straw or pine bark at the foot of the shrubs. In this way we will avoid that evaporation affects the amount of water in the area.
Plant in rich and drained soil, avoiding excessively clayey areas. In fact, these plants can be adapted without any problems also in the common garden earth or in the semi-paludous soils.
In this respect, melanocarp aronia is not demanding. It adapts to a large number of substrates. It tolerates salty substrates rather well and only those that are excessively poor, sandy and dry very quickly should be avoided.
For best results, slightly acidic soils (pH between 5 and 6.5) should be preferred, therefore with little or no limescale, rich in organic matter and capable of retaining moisture perfectly. Root rot is rarely a problem, so it can also be good on poorly drained soils or swampy areas.
The multiplication of this plant happens by seed, in autumn, or by semi-woody cutting in summer. The haronies produce numerous basal shoots, in late spring it is possible to divide them from the mother plant and plant them individually.
Pests and diseases
In general, these plants are not affected by pests or diseases.
History of Aronia
This plant was introduced in Eastern Europe, Asia, Scandinavia and Russia at the beginning of the XX century. It has aroused the interest of many nurserymen and botanists to the point that they immediately began research to obtain hybrids suitable for both ornamental purposes and to maximize the production of fruits.
Currently it is considered, in some countries of Northern Europe, slightly invasive and therefore you must pay some attention when you introduce it in your garden.
In the places of origin is known since ancient times and was commonly used by the natives for its many nutritional and healing virtues.
These are very resistant shrubs. They are not afraid of the cold (they can withstand temperatures as low as -35 ° C) and even the extreme heat. The important thing is that the soil is always at least slightly moist.
To obtain a good production it is good to give regularly a good slow release fertilizer for fruit plants.
The ideal is to intervene in autumn by distributing abundantly mature manure to the foot of the shrubs, so that the soil remains vital and well aerated.
In the spring we can spread granular fertilizer with good amounts of potassium. We follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the quantity, referring to the tables concerning the small fruits (blueberries, currants or raspberries).
The best period for planting is from October to December, but you can also operate until March-April, avoiding the months when the ground is icy and too full of water.
It is good to work the area well in advance, so that the ground can revitalize. We will incorporate good amounts of organic soil improver (possibly floured manure well seasoned). If we notice an excessively calcareous soil, we should also incorporate a little ‘peat blonde.
The ideal distance between an individual and the other is about 1 meter, between the rows, however, should be left at least 3-4 meters.
To have a good production you have to wait at least four years.
It is carried out from February to April: at least 1/3 of the old wood at the base is cut, to stimulate the production of new basal jets. Old, weak or poorly addressed branches should also be removed.
If we want to preserve the fruits from the attack of birds, we should cover our shrubs with nets. On sale are products specially designed for this purpose.
The fruit takes about three months to ripen. Harvesting can begin around October (a little earlier in the south of the peninsula). We check that the fruits are well black or red (depending on the species) and then we cut all the corymb at the base. We always use gloves because the colouring released by the fruits is difficult to remove from the hands.
Full production starts from the seventh year after planting and is around 10 tons per hectare, about 2.5 kg per plant.
Aronia melanocarpa: Species and cultivars
Aronia arbutifolia (red arony) generally grows to a height of 4 metres, but in its place of origin it can reach up to 6 metres. It has leaves from 5 to 8 cm long, with small pelossettes on the underside. The flowers are pinkish-white, of about 1 cm of diameter. The fruits are red, translucent, with a diameter from 4 to 10 mm. If not harvested, they do not fall to the ground during the whole winter, making the whole pier pleasant to the sight.
Melanocarp harony (black aronia) is smaller in size. It reaches a maximum of 1 meter high by 3 meters wide. It has small leaves, no longer than 6 cm, smooth on both the front and the back and finely indented. The flowers are white, about 1.5 cm in diameter. The fruits are black and glossy, up to 1 cm in diameter. They do not resist on the plant during the winter season.
Aronia prunifolia is probably the result of an interspecific hybridization between the two previous ones, even if some consider it, in all respects, an autonomous species. It has slightly hairy leaves, the fruits are dark blue, with a maximum diameter of 1 cm.
IBRIDI E CULTIVAR
Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliant’
Very resistant to cold.
Berries used as a colouring matter or as a ‘health’ fruit
White flowers and fruits
Very much commercialized both as fruit-giving and for ornamental purposes
Aronia x prunifolia ‘Viking’
Up to 2 meters high
Red foliage in autumn
Blooms in May
Large black fruits
Aronia x prunifolia ‘Black’
Up to 2 meters in height and width.
Oval leaves, purple in autumn
Large flowers, between March and April
Large shiny black fruits in September-October
The most rustic.
The fruits remain throughout the winter, excellent to eat fresh, cooked or for juices.