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Trees of Iowa: An Interactive Key

Common Choke Cherry
(Prunus virginiana)


Leaves are alternate, simple, lobed; lobes with rounded tips; fruit an acorn.


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The choke cherry is a small tree with frequently crooked or inclined trunk and a narrow, open, slender-branched head.  It is found over most of the state at the edge of woods, in fence rows and waste places.  It is a beautiful tree when in flower in the spring, and is a valuable wildlife tree.

Hardiness: zones 3 through 10

Growth Rate:
medium to fast

Mature Shape:
varies by species

Height:
20 to 30 feet high

Width:
15 to 25 feet wide

Site Requirements:
Adaptable but prefers moist, well-drained soils.  In the right conditions, it will grow like a weed.  Withstands heavy pruning and prefers full sun to partial shade.

Flowering Dates: May

Seed Dispersal Dates:

Seed Bearing Age:

Seed Bearing Frequency:

Seed Stratification: Prechill for 4-5 months at 34F to 40F
Choke Cherry FlowersChoke Cherry Flowers

The thin leaves are dark green and shiny above, pale and dull beneath.  The leaf is finely toothed with outward curved teeth.  It is oval and quitebroad, and narrow toward the base.

Choke Cherry LeavesChoke Cherry Leaves

The stout twigs are aromatic and bitter, light brown to dark red-brown and marked with large, oblong white spots.  On older stems it becomes dark gray, slightly roughened or scaly and matted

Choke Cherry TwigsChoke Cherry Fruit

The small, fleshy and cherry like fruit is found on short stems in clusters similar to grapes. It is nearly black and is edible when ripe.   On young stems, the bark is smooth and gray.

 

Click on a thumbnail image below to view a larger picture.
Choke Cherry Flowers Choke Cherry Leaves Choke Cherry Flowers Choke Cherry Fruit Choke Cherry Leaves Choke Cherry Twigs