Prunus virginiana

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: chokecherry 
Type: Tree
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 2 to 7
Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge, Flowering Tree, Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Grow in average, dry to medium, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Best flowering is in full sun. Plants will sucker to form colonies in the wild. Promptly remove suckers to prevent any unwanted spread.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Prunus virginiana, commonly called chokecherry, is primarily native from Newfoundland to Saskatchewan south to North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri and Kansas. In Missouri, it most frequently occurs on wooded slopes, bluffs and ravines in areas north of the Missouri River (Steyermark). Chokecherry is a small deciduous tree typically growing to 20-30’ tall with an irregular, oval-rounded crown. It also may be found in shorter heights as a large shrub. Fragrant, cup-shaped, 5-lobed, white flowers (each to 1/2” across) in elongated clusters to 3-6” long bloom in mid-spring. Flowers give way to clusters of globular, pea-sized berries that ripen to dark purple/black in August. Fruits are technically edible, but are astringent (hence the common name) and should not be eaten off the tree. Fruits can be harvested for processing into jams, jellies, pies and sauces. Fruits are very attractive to many birds and animals. Elliptic to obovate leaves (to 5” long) with sharply toothed margins are dark green above and gray-green beneath. Fall color is golden yellow to orange. This tree is also commonly called Virginia bird cherry. Although common in the wild in many parts of the U.S., this species is infrequently sold in commerce. However, certain cultivars, such as the purple-leaved P. virginiana ‘Schubert’, have become popular landscape plants.

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet means of Virginia.


Susceptible to a large number of insect and disease pests. Potential diseases include black knot, leaf spot, die back, leaf curl, powdery mildew, root rot and fireblight. Potential insects include borers, aphids, scale, leafhoppers, caterpillars, tent caterpillars and Japanese beetles. Spider mites may also be troublesome. Wood is weak and branches may be broken by ice/snow in winter.


Shrub borders, open woodland gardens or native plant areas. May be naturalized in wild areas.