ingredient information
The chokeberries (Aronia) are two[2] species of deciduous shrubs in the family Rosaceae, native to eastern North America. They are most commonly found in wet woods and swamps.[citation needed] The leaves are alternate, simple, and oblanceolate with crenate margins and pinnate venation; in autumn the leaves turn a bold red color. Dark trichomes are present on the upper midrib surface. The flowers are small, with 5 petals and 5 sepals, and produced in corymbs of 10-25 together. Hypanthium is urn-shaped. The fruit is a small pome, with a very astringent, bitter flavor; it is eaten by birds (birds do not taste astringency and feed on them readily), which then disperse the seeds in their droppings. The name "chokeberry" comes from the astringency of the fruits which are inedible when raw. The chokeberries are often mistakenly called chokecherries, which is the common name for Prunus virginiana. Further adding to the ambiguity, there is a cultivar of Prunus virginiana named 'Melanocarpa' [2], [3], easily confused with Aronia melanocarpa. In fact, the two plants are only distantly related within the Rosaceae. Chokeberries are very high in antioxidant pigment compounds, like anthocyanins. They share this property with chokecherries, further contributing to confusion. Aronia is closely related to Photinia, and has been included in that genus in some classifications (Robertson et al. 1991). Botanist Kalkman argues that a combined genus should be under the older name Aronia, and is unsure about the monophyly of the combined group.[3] The combined genus contains about 65 species.[4] In eastern North America, there are two well-known species, named after their fruit color, red chokeberry and black chokeberry, plus a purple chokeberry whose origin is a natural hybrid of the two.[4] Red chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia (Photinia pyrifolia),[5] grows to 2-4 m tall, rarely up to 6 m. Leaves are 5-8 cm long and densely pubescent on the underside. The flowers are white or pale pink, 1 cm diameter, with glandular sepals. The fruit is red, 4-10 mm diameter, persisting into winter. Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)Black chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa (Photinia melanocarpa),[6] tends to be smaller, rarely exceeding 1 m tall, rarely 3 m, and spreads readily by root sprouts. The leaves are smaller, not more than 6 cm long, with terminal glands on leaf teeth and a glabrous underside. The flowers are white, 1.5 cm diameter, with glabrous sepals. The fruit is black, 6-9 mm diameter, not persisting into winter. The two species hybridise in the wild, giving the Purple Chokeberry, Aronia prunifolia (Photinia floribunda).[7] Leaves are moderately pubescent on the underside. Few to no glands are present on the sepal surface. The fruit is dark purple to black, 7-10 mm in diameter, not persisting into winter. There are purple chokeberry populations which seem to be self-sustaining independent of the two parent species, leading botanist Alan Weakley to consider it a full species rather than a hybrid.[4] The chokeberries are attractive ornamental plants for gardens. They are naturally understory and woodland edge plants, and grow well when planted under trees. Chokeberries are resistant to drought, insects, pollution, and disease. Several cultivars have been developed for garden planting, including A. arbutifolia 'Brilliant', selected for its striking fall leaf color, and A. melanocarpa 'Viking' and 'Nero', selected for larger fruit suitable for jam-making. Chokeberries are self-fertile, so only one plant is needed to produce fruit.[8] Juice from these berries is astringent and not sweet, but high in vitamin C and antioxidants. The berries can be used to make wine or jam after cooking. Aronia is also used as a flavoring or colorant for beverages or yogurts. The red chokeberry's fruit is more palatable and can be eaten raw. It has a sweeter flavor than the black species and is used to make jam or pemmican.