Aronias are extremely productive, with mature plants yielding 15 lbs or more of berries. We make smoothies, juices, jams, sauces, desserts, and other dishes with them. Dark cholcolate is the ultimate pairing!
This aronia bush is only maybe half the size it will be at maturity, but already loaded with many pounds of berries.
Aronias (Aronia melanocarpa or Sorbaronia mitschurinii) are sometimes called chokeberries, because when underripe they are extremely astringent (like unripe persimmons). But we think this name doesn't do aronias justice, because when fully ripe, (althrough they retain some of the astringency) they become quite sweet with a rich, complex flavor most comparable to acai berries. But unlike acai berries, they are native to our area and actaully have more antioxidants than acai, blueberries, elderberries, and most other "superfoods". Although some people enjoy them fresh, they are probably at their best when frozen or cooked, which eliminates most of the astringency. They can be used for a wide variety of different dishes - pies, jams, jellies, juices, sauces, etc. Our favorite way to to use them is in a frozen smoothie, blended with yogurt and other berries. Mad Princes Brewing in Buckingham even makes a killer sour beer with them!
Aronias will grow in an extremely wide range of soil conditions and can be found in the wild growing in extreme areas like exposed glades and in wet ditches. They tolerate wet soil better than almost any other berry, yet despite this, they are also fairly drought tolerant once they get established. They also have no significant diseases or pests to worry about and are even quite deer resistant. Talk about a bulletproof plant! Their flowers are also highly attractive to native pollinators and birds will make great use of any berries you don't harvest for yourself, as the dried berries will hang on the shrubs all through winter. So there are countless reasons to grow these plants!
Aronias growanywhere from 3-8 ft tall depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. Space plants 4-6 ft apart. Aronia leaves will turn a bright red color in the fall and look great as an edible ornamental hedge. Aronias are self-fertile but will produce more fruit with another cultivar around.
'McKenzie' Aronia - Aronia melanocarpa 'McKenzie'
Selected originally for its value in shelterbelts, McKenzie is taller and bushier than Viking with slightly larger berries that taste quite similar. Originated at the USDA plant breeding program in 1976 in North Dakota and released in 2008. Grows 8-10 ft in height.
'Viking' Aronia - Sorbaronia mitschurinii 'Viking'
Viking is the mainstay cultivar of commercial aronia farms. Produces high yields of large purple berries and grows 6-8 ft in height. A dry, meaty berry that ripens in early fall, it freezes and processes very nicely. Originally thought to be Aronia melanocarpa but now thought to be a hybrid of Aronia melanocarpa and Sorbus aucuparia.