Aronia melanocarpa 'Viking'
Common Name: black chokeberry 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Plants have a wide range of soil tolerance including boggy soils. Best fruit production usually occurs in full sun. Remove root suckers to prevent colonial spread.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aronia melanocarpa, commonly called black chokeberry, is an open, upright, spreading, somewhat rounded but leggy, suckering, deciduous shrub that typically grows 3-6’ tall. It is native to low woods, swamps, bogs and moist thickets but occasionally to dry upland areas, from Newfoundland to southern Ontario and Minnesota south to Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia. Although common in many parts of its native range, it is somewhat rare in Missouri where it is only found in sandy wet or boggy ground along spring branches at the base of Crowley Ridge in southeastern Stoddard County (Steyermark). It is noted for its 5-6 flowered clusters of white 5-petaled spring (May) flowers, glossy elliptic to obovate dark green leaves (to 2-3” long) with finely toothed margins, black autumn berries (blueberry size) and purple/red fall color.

Genus name comes from the Greek word aria the name for a species of Sorbus of which the fruits resemble chokeberry.

Specific epithet comes from the words melano meaning black and carpa meaning fruit in reference to the ripe fruits of this shrub.

The common name of chokeberry is in reference to the tart and bitter taste of the fruits which are technically edible but so astringent as to cause choking in most of those who try. Fruits are sometimes used to make tasty jams and jellies.

'Viking' is an upright, multi-stemmed deciduous shrub that was developed in Europe as an orchard plant. It has glossy elliptic to obovate dark green leaves (to 2-3” long) with finely toothed margins. The leaves turn an attractive red in fall. In spring, slightly earlier than the species, it has 5 to 6-flowered clusters of white 5-petaled, fragrant flowers that mature into purplish black edible berries that ripen in late summer. The berries are high in nutrients and can be used for juice, pies and jellies or to provide food for birds and other wildlife. 'Viking' grows 3 to 6 ft. tall and wide.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf spots and twig/fruit blight.

Garden Uses

Group or mass in shrub borders, small gardens or open woodland areas. Ability to withstand wet conditions makes it suitable for growing on the margins of ponds or streams. Excellent addition to naturalized areas where its suckering, colonial growth habit does not need to be restrained.

Addition to a fruit garden.