There are several reasons why I selected the black aronia for my site. I wanted to use a sun loving, native plant with seasonal interest that only grows three to five feet tall and wide. As a native shrub this one should also withstands our dry sandy soils. As an added bonus, aronia are also edible.
There are actually two types of aronia native to our area. Black chokeberries are smaller with black fruit, while red chokeberry has red fruit. I have both in my yard. Both are native plants that prefer full sun to partial shade, tolerate both wet and dry sites, and prefer acid soil. They both have a suckering habit, similar to raspberries and other small fruits.
Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) has pretty white flowers in the spring, followed by black edible fruit. Our black aronia is the 'Autumn Magic' cultivar. I like it because the plant turns a red to purple fall color for added late season interest. Clusters of small, white flowers occur in mid-spring followed by small, round dark purple to black fruit in late summer and autumn.
Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) grows 6-10 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide. I also have this plant in my backyard. It has clusters of small, white flowers in mid-spring followed by small, round bright red fruit in late summer and autumn. Foliage turns bright red in autumn similar to burning bush.
Aronia has been called the "new superfruit." They are edible berries, though chokeberry fruit is said to be so tart and bitter that few can eat them raw. They reportedly are so astringent that they are not eaten by birds. This is an advantage since the attractive berries will then remain through much of winter. The fruits can be processed, however, and are sometimes used to make tasty jams and jellies.
Both aronia plants are listed as good replacement shrubs for invasive plants such as burning bush and Japanese barberry. For example, aronia can serve as a much better alternative to burning bush because it adapts to more site conditions and has multi-season interest, including the red fall color.
As you can see, aronia seem to have it all: four-season interest, fragrant flowers in spring, fall color and fruit, wildlife interest, and edible fruit. They also attract pollinators to your yard.Looking for a new shrub for your yard? Try aronia or use our University of Illinois Extension shrub selector website to find the perfect shrub for your site http://extension.illinois.edu/shrubselector/