An Eco-sustainable World
ShrubbySpecies Plant

Aronia × prunifolia

Aronia × prunifolia

The purple chokeberry (Aronia × prunifolia (Marshall) Rehder, 1938) is a shrub species belonging to the Rosaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Subkingdom Tracheobionta,
Spermatophyta superdivision,
Magnoliophyta division,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Subclass Rosidae,
Rosales Order,
Rosaceae family,
Subfamily Maloideae,
Genus chokeberry,
Aronia × prunifolia species.
The terms are synonyms:
– Adenorachis atropurpurea (Britton) Nieuwl.;
– Aronia arbutifolia atropurpurea (Britton) C.K.Schneid.;
– Aronia atropurpurea Britton;
– Aronia floribunda (Lindl.) Sweet;
– Crataegus arbutifolia Lam.;
– Mespilus × prunifolia Marshall;
– Mespilus amelanchier prunifolia (Marshall) Castigl.;
– Pyrus × floribunda Lindl.;
– Pyrus arbutifolia × melanocarpa typica (C.K.Schneid.) Asch. & Graebn.;
– Pyrus arbutifolia atropurpurea (Britton) B.L.Rob.;
– Pyrus arbutifolia pubescens E.L.Rand & Redfield;
– Pyrus atropurpurea (Britton) L.H.Bailey;
– Pyrus melanocarpa atropurpurea (Britton) Farw.;
– Sorbus × floribunda (Lindl.) Heynh.;
– Sorbus arbutifolia atropurpurea (Britton) C.K.Schneid..

Etymology –
The term Aronia derives from the Greek ἀρωνία aronía, air, name of a sort of medlar mentioned by Dioscorides.
The specific prunifolia epithet comes from the genus Prunus (from prunus, in Pliny, latinization of the Greek προῦμνη proúmne susino, pruno in Theophrastus and Dioscorides, probably derived from a pre-Greek language of Asia Minor, see also prunum prugna, plum from the Greek προῦνον proúnon in Galen) and from folium leaf: with foliage similar to that of the genus Prunus.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Aronia × prunifolia is a hybrid deriving from the crossing of A. arbutifolia × A. melanocarpa and widespread on the eastern side of North America (Canada and the United States).
The plant is native to eastern Canada and the eastern and central United States from western Nova Scotia to Ontario and Wisconsin south to western South Carolina with an isolated population reported in southern Alabama.
Its typical habitat in these areas is that of low woods.

Description –
Aronia × prunifolia is a shrubby, branched, deciduous plant that forms tufts by means of stems that form from the roots. Typically this plant grows slowly up to 2.5 – 3.5 meters in height. Over time, the suckers of the plant form a tuft of 20 stems or more.
The leaves are obovate to elliptical in shape, dark green, up to 90 cm long, gray-green in color and hairy on the underside. The foliage turns wine red in the fall.
The flowers are white or pink, collected in corymbs, with 5 petals, about 1,3 cm long, which appear in spring.
Pollination is by bees, insects and apomixis.
The flowers are followed by abundant purple fruits, just under one cm in size, which appear in dense clusters along the branches.
The fruits, which are dark purple berries, ripen in late summer and persist throughout autumn and into winter. Many people consider fruit to be tasteless.

Cultivation –
Aronia × prunifolia is a plant that, spontaneously, grows in groupings or in shrub borders or in wooded areas. The ability to withstand wet conditions makes it suitable for growing at the edge of ponds or streams. Also effective in naturalized areas where its habit of colonizing certain areas need not be curbed.
Generally the plant is harvested from the wild for local use as food and is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental and can be used as a hedge.
However, this plant is easily cultivable in medium-textured, well-drained soils and in full sun to partial shade. It is, however, a slow growing plant.
From a pedological point of view, it adapts to many types of soil, including swampy soils. However, it does not like shallow soils on a chalky substrate.
The best fruit production usually occurs in full sun.
The plants are hardy down to about -25°C.
Root sucker removal is recommended to prevent colonial spread.
From the point of view of reproduction, it should be emphasized that this genus is closely related to the Sorbus species and it has been shown that it hybridizes with them.
It is also completely self-compatible and is capable of spreading beyond the limits of the range of at least one of its parental origin.
From the point of view of pathologies it does not present any serious problems of insects or diseases. It has some susceptibility to leaf spot and downy mildew on branches and fruit.
Although this species is of hybrid origin, it has been shown to reproduce from seed. It is recommended to sow it as soon as it is mature in pots outdoors or in an unheated greenhouse. It is also useful to pre-soak stored seeds overnight and then cold stratify for 3 months at 2°C.
The seed germinates in 1 – 3 months at 15°C.
When the seedlings can be handled, they should then be placed in individual pots and protected for their first winter. The transplant should be done in late spring.
Another, faster, propagation system is that through semi-mature wood cuttings, to be done in mid-summer in a shaded area.
It can also be multiplied by division of suckers in the dormant season. It is a rather easy technique and the suckers can be planted directly in the open field.

Customs and Traditions –
Aronia × prunifolia is considered by some Authors as a hybrid rather than a full-fledged species, but it grows in places where none of the parents is present (most of Michigan for example). This independence deserves has made some authors lean towards acceptance as a complete species.
The genus Aronia has been variously treated by botanists. Some botanists consider it a genus comprising a single highly variable species (Aronia arbutifolia), while others have treated it as comprising several distinct species. We are following the current (2016) treatment of the genus in the Flora of North America, which recognizes two distinct species plus a naturally occurring hybrid between the two.
In addition, another species of hybrid origin is recognized (Aronia mitschurinii A.K.Skvortsov & Maitul.), although this, in the future, will probably be recognized as a biggeneric hybrid (Sorbaronia mitschurinii (Skvortsov & Maitul.) Sennikov).
Historically, species in the genus have been variously assigned to Adenorachis, Crataegus, Halmia, Malus, Mespilus, Pyrus, and Sorbus. More recently it has been included in Photinia, but a phylogenetic analysis by C. S. Campbell et al. (2007), using chloroplast and nuclear DNA sequence data, did not find a close relationship between Aronia arbutifolia and Photinia villosa.
Species in the genus hybridize with some species of Sorbus (forming the intergeneric hybrid ×Sorbaronia C.K.Schneider), and the genus as a whole has sometimes been treated as a subgenus or section of Sorbus.
In any case, Aronia × prunifolia is used, both spontaneously and cultivated for various purposes.
Among these we report the edible ones.
The berries, which are tart and bitter, are technically edible but so astringent that they cause a choking sensation in those who try them.
The dried fruits are used to make pemmican.
The quality of the fruit is quite variable, it is often very astringent, acidic and bitter, even if some forms are quite pleasant when fully ripe, especially if they have undergone a few frosts.
In general, the fruits of the chokeberry species are potentially a very healthy and tasty addition to the diet. Although many wild forms are unappealing to eat, various forms with higher quality fruit have been selected (or developed through selective breeding). These forms are often available in nurseries, and some are grown commercially on a large scale for use in juices, for making jams, wines, and as a flavoring for other beverages.
Aronia berries also contain useful vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B2, vitamin B6 and folic acid. Berries are the richest source of anthocyanins and other antioxidants among fruits, more so than blueberries and even pomegranates. Several studies have shown that Aronia is useful for: diabetes, urinary tract infections, cardiovascular diseases, flu.
On the other hand, specific medicinal uses are not known other than the benefits listed above.
Other uses include agroforestry. The plant can be used as a hedge, as it responds well to pruning.

Method of Preparation –
Aronia × prunifolia is a plant that can be consumed tata for its ripening fruits; these, as mentioned, are small in size with a purple-black skin and a light-colored firm pulp. The flavor is sweet with a hint of acidity similar to a blueberry but with variations also tending towards excessively astringent in some wild forms.
The fruits can be used to prepare jams and jellies but also juices, wines and as a condiment for other drinks.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: The pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; we therefore decline all responsibility for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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