Plant Guide > Trees > Plums and Cherries > Choke Cherry Tree

Choke Cherry Tree

Choke Cherry TreeThe Choke Cherry (Prunus Virginiana, Linn.) is a miniature tree, as a rule, rarely growing higher than a thrifty lilac bush except in the region between Nebraska and northern Texas. Its shiny bark, racemed flowers and fruit, and the odour of its leaves and bark may lead one to confuse it with a black cherry sapling. But this mistake need not occur.

The leaves and bark of the black cherry are aromatic and pungent, and the taste is bitter. The choke cherry exhales an odour that is rank and disagreeable beside being pungent, and the taste is intensified in the same unpleasant way.

The leaves of choke cherry are nearly twice as broad as those of P. serotina, and abruptly pointed; its fruit, until dead ripe, is red (or yellow), and so puckery, harsh and bitter that children, who eat the black cherries eagerly, cannot be persuaded to taste choke cherries a second time.

The birds are not so fastidious. They strip the trees before the fruit turns black. It is probably by these unconscious agents of seed distribution that the choke cherry has become so widely scattered. From the Arctic circle to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains it is found in all wooded regions.