Life Span: Perennial
shrub or small tree, growing erect, 6 to 25 feet tall, with horizontal
branches, growing in dense thickets. Flowers April to July, fruits
mature July to September. It reproduces from seeds, rhizomes, and
are white and in long, dense clusters. The fragrant flowers have
5 sepals, 5 petals, and many stamens.
Produces a dark red to black, fleshy, cherry-like fruit. The fruit
is tart and astringent, being ¼ to ½ inch in diameter.
and deciduous, oval to somewhat oblong, with serrated margins. Leaves
are 1 to 3 ½ inches long. Underside of leaf is somewhat paler
than top of leaf. There are 2 glands at the top of the petiole.
Leaves turn bright yellow to orange in fall.
slender, reddish-brown to orangish-brown. The bark is gray to black,
with prominent "corky" spots on the bark (lenticels),
which are reddish-white. The trunk is dark red. The wood is hard,
heavy, and light colored.
is common in the foothills and mountain canyons, along streambanks
or in moist places, at elevations of 4,900 to 10,200 feet.
abundant on moist soils, but adapted to a broad range of soil types.
aspen, alder, ponderosa
pine, mountain brome,
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 an important food for many birds. Cattle and domestic sheep
also eat chokecherry, and because of its toxicity (see below), poisoning
sometimes occurs. Livestock normally do not eat fatal quantities
except when other forage is scarce.
Poisoning is caused by toxic quantities of hydrocyanic acid in leaves,
stems, and seeds. It is believed to be poisonous to all classes
of livestock, and poisoning generally occurs when the plant is stressed
from drought or freezing. For poisoning to be fatal, an animal must
eat a toxic dose (0.25% of its bodyweight) in 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Signs of poisoning include distress, blue coloring of the mouth,
rapid breathing, salivation, muscle twitching, coma, and death.
The fruits of chokecherry are used to make wines, syrups, jellies,
and jams. The bark is sometimes used as a flavoring agent in cough
syrup. American Indians used bark extract to cure diarrhea. The
fruits were used to treat canker sores, cold sores, and added to
pemmican. The Paiutes made a medicinal tea from the leaves and twigs
to treat colds and rheumatism. The wood was used for arrows, bows,
and pipe stems.