Choke Cherry - Prunus virginiana

Native Shrubs ... in wildlife landscaping

West Virginia Native Plant Society
West Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program

  Form: Tall shrub or small tree, to 30 feet tall.
  Twigs: Grayish, inner layers with an unpleasant odor.
  Leaves: Deciduous, alternate, simple oval or oblong, abruptly pointed, margins sharply serrate, 2 to 4 inches long, 1 to 2 inches wide.
  Flowers: May-June. White in terminal clusters.
  Fruit: A drupe which turns bright crimson when mature in August and September.
West Virginia Range:
Scattered in state, most common around swamps at the high elevations.
Natural Habitat:
Woods and open places.
Wildlife Use:
70 species of game and songbirds use fruits which are very important in late summer and early fall. Buds and twigs are eaten by grouse. Fair cover plant. Old dried fruits which hand on the shrubs are excellent survival foods in late winter.
Horticulture:
Uses: Specimen or large clump.
Light: Partial to full sun.
Soil Moisture: Moist to dry. Well drained.
Soil pH: Neutral to acid.
Problems: Highly attractive to eastern tent caterpillar, suckers heavily, rabbits girdle plants.

Compiled by: Brian McDonald, botanist, coordinator Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins, West Virginia

Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Nongame Program

Illustration from Flora of West Virginia, Strausbaugh and Core