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Chokecherry

( Prunus virginiana )

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Chokecherry
Western Chokecherry
Virginia Chokecherry
Common Chokecherry
Red Chokecherry
Cloetree
Wild Cherry
Rosaceae
Prunus
Prunus virginiana
Linnaeus
Characteristics

Tree

Deciduous

1

Sun, Partial Shade

Clay, Sand, Loam

Dry, Normal, Moist

Yes

No

No

No
Habitat Considerations

Taiga Plains, Boreal Shield, Atlantic Maritime, Mixedwood Plains, Boreal Plains, Prairies, Boreal Cordillera, Pacific Maritime, Montane Cordillera

Woodland, Forest Edge, Swamp/Marsh, Lakeshores

Bird, Hedgerow/Thicket/Windbreak/Screening, Woodland
Design Considerations

400 cm

800 cm

May - Jun

White/Cream

Yes

Yes

Black|Purple|Red

Yes

Columbia silkmoth| Swallowtails| Gossamer Wings| Hairstreaks

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Squirrels, Birds, Butterflies, Butterfly Larvae, Bees, Other Showy Insects

No
Conservation Status

Yes


Interesting Tidbits

Caution: All parts of this tree except the cherry flesh contain the toxin hydrocyanic acid. (Kershaw) MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN. Children have been poisoned and have died after ingesting large quantities of berries, which contain the seeds. (Canadian Biodiversity Poisonous Plants) Poisonous Parts: New growth, wilted leaves, or plant parts that are injured by frost or drought are poisonous to cattle and humans. The toxin, hydrocyanic acid, is formed in the animal's stomach. Hydrocyanic acid quickly affects animals and causes difficulty in breathing, slow pulse, dilated pupils, staggering and loss of consciousness before death. Chokecherry toxicity is highest during the spring and summer; however, leaves are non-toxic by the time fruits mature. (Rangeland Ecosystems) Blue-black edible cherries, makes good jelly. Important food for wildlife in July and August. Aboriginals and settlers used chokecherry bark and roots to make sedatives, blood-fortifying tonics, appetite stimulants and medicinal teas for treating coughs, tuberculosis, malaria, stomachaches and intestinal worms. (Kershaw) Aboriginals used to prepare the fruit as part of pemmican. Chokecherry is moderately palatable to all classes of livestock, although it is more heavily browsed by domestic sheep than by cattle. It is a preferred mule deer browse on many winter ranges throughout the Intermountain West and Northern Great Plains. Chokecherry is widely regarded as an important wildlife food plant and provides habitat, watershed protection, and species diversity. Fruits, leaves, and twigs are utilized. Large mammals including bears, moose, coyotes, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, elk, and deer use chokecherry as browse. Chokecherry is also a food source for small mammals. The fruits are important food for many birds. Cattle and domestic sheep also eat chokecherry, and because of its toxicity, poisoning sometimes occurs. Livestock normally do not eat fatal quantities except when other forage is scarce. (USDA Forest Service) Seeds can be taken in the fall, or greenwood cuttings taken for propagation. Habitat Information: A pioneer plant, this one is used extensively in habitat restoration, and successional species from meadow habitats it prefers full sun. It is an important wildlife species, and for erosion control. Appears in a variety of habitats in dense stands in thickets, by itself in clearings and open woods. (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) Insect Relationships: Its nectar is an important food for butterflies, ants and bees in the spring time. (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) Adrenid bees in study only: Bees (short-tongued) Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena erythrogaster, Andrena forbesii, Andrena hippotes, Andrena imitatrix imitatrix, Andrena miranda, Andrena nigrae, Andrena nuda, Andrena perplexa, Andrena rugosa, Andrena sigmundi (Krombein et al. as cited in Illinois Wildflowers)


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