Choke cherry

Silhouette - choke cherry
  • Latin name: Prunus virginiana var. virginiana L.
  • French name: Cerisier de Virginie
  • Synonym(s): Eastern choke cherry
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 529895
Description

Leaves

  • Leaf with details of closely spaced teeth (above) and glands on leaf stalk (below) - choke cherry

Form

  • Broadly oval to widest above the middle
  • Thin; abruptly tapering to both ends, particularly to the short, sharp tip
  • 1 or 2 glands at the base of the leaf blade
  • Occasional tufts of hair at the vein axils on the lower surface

Length

  • 5–10 cm

Colour

  • Upper surface dull green
  • Lower surface paler

Margin

  • Teeth sharp, closely spaced, 4–5 per vein
  • Each tooth ends in a straight hair-like point

Buds

  • Lateral bud and leaf scar - choke cherry

Form

  • Sharp-pointed, diverging slightly from the twig

Length

  • 3–4 mm

Colour

  • Scales dark brown with pale edges

Twigs

  • Winter twig - choke cherry

Form

  • Slender to moderately stout, smooth
  • Only member of the genus without a greyish skin that wears off
  • Very strong bitter almond odour when bruised

Colour

  • Greyish-brown

Flowers

Form

  • In elongated, dense, cylindrical clusters at the end of new short leafy shoots

Length

  • 8–15 cm
  • Flower stalks 5–6 mm

Structure

  • Synoecious

Floral timing

  • Before the new leaves are fully developed

Fruits

  • Fruit on stalk (left); view of small calyx (right) - choke cherry

Form

  • In elongated drooping clusters of 6–12 fruits
  • Very astringent but edible
  • Minute remnant of flower calyx at the base of each fruit

Width

  • 8–10 mm

Colour

  • Varying by tree from yellow to crimson to black

Timing

  • Ripen in August or early September

Bark

Form

  • Smooth or with fine scales
  • Lenticels prominent but not extended horizontally as in most species of Prunus

Colour

  • Dark greyish-brown, with age becoming almost black

Size

Height

  • To 9 m

Diameter

  • 15 cm

Tree form

  • Silhouette - choke cherry

Open-grown

Trunk

  • Slender, often inclined, crooked and twisted

Crown

  • Branches slender, upright to slightly spreading

Habitat

Site

  • Rich, moist soils, such as along fencerows and streams, on cleared land, bordering wooded areas

Light tolerance

  • Relatively intolerant of shade

Range

Transcontinental except for coastal British Columbia

Insects and diseases

Insects and diseases that are found most frequently and/or that cause the most damage in our Canadian forests.

Photos
  • Choke cherry
  • Choke cherry
  • Choke cherry
  • Choke cherry
  • Choke cherry
  • Choke cherry
  • Choke cherry
Distribution map
Distribution map - choke cherry
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