Prunus virginiana - Chokecherry

Prunus virginiana 

Family:  Rosaceae

Common Name(s): Chokecherry

General Bloom Time:  May through June

Identification:  Can become trees up to 12 inches thick and 60 feet tall, in greater northwest usually multi stemmed bushy shrubs 12-20 feet tall, in spring creamy white blossoms

Leaves:  Oval leaves attached to leaf stem by two knoblike glands, leaves are 1.5-4 inches long and have a pointed tip

Fruit:  Cherries about ½ inch long that range in color from red to purple and black

Flower: Cylindrical clusters of white flowers, 4-6 inches long.

Habitat: Moist, low elevation pasturelands and streamsides, sometimes semi-arid grasslands

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Distribution:  Broadly distributed in the U.S. and Canada with exception of Florida and surrounding states

Fun Facts:

  - For many Native American tribes of the Northern Rockies, Northern Plains, and boreal forest region of Canada and the United States chokecherries were the most important fruit in their diets

- The bark of chokecherry root was used to ward off or treat colds, fever and stomach maladies

- The chokecherry fruit can be used to make a tasty jam, jelly, or syrup (but it is very bitter unless you use a lot of sugar)

Where to find in Portland: Not abundant in wooded shady areas but found in Forest Park and other natural areas.  Relatively common in backyards.

References:

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PRVI

http://nativeplants.evergreen.ca/search/view-plant.php?ID=00542

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_virginiana

Arno, Stephen F., and Ramona P. Hammerly. Northwest Trees. Seattle: Mountaineers, 1977. Print.

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