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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

General: Rose Family (Rosaceae). Chokecherry is a native, perennial, deciduous, woody, thicket-forming large erect shrub or small tree. It rarely reaches a height of over 30 feet. The crown is irregular and from 10 to 20 feet wide when mature. The stems are numerous and slender. Reproduction can either be by seed or root rhizomes.

Leaves are dark green and glossy above and paler beneath. They are alternate, simple, glabrous, oval to broadly elliptic in shape, 1 to 4 inches long, and 3/4 to 2 inches wide. The margins are toothed with closely-spaced sharp teeth pointing outward forming a serrated edge. They turn yellow in autumn.

The bark of young trees may vary from gray to a reddish brown. As it ages the bark turns darker, into brownish-black and becomes noticeably furrowed. The bark is distinctly marked by horizontal rows of raised air pores (lenticels). With maturation the lenticels develop into shallow grooves.

It has perfect flowers which are aromatic and arranged in cylindrical racemes 3 to 6 inches long. The racemes always grow on the current year's leafy twig growth. Individual flowers are perfect, 1/4 to 3/8 inch in diameter with 5 white petals. The flowers start appearing before the leaves are fully developed. Flowers may appear from April to July and fruits form a couple of months later.

The fruits are spherical drupes (fleshy fruit with a stone in the center), globose, 1/4 to 3/8 inch in diameter. Small ripe cherries range in color from dark red or purple to almost black. There are from 3,000 to 5,000 seeds per pound.

The roots are a network of rhizomes. Deep root systems grow at irregular intervals along the length of the rhizomes. Rhizomes can extend beyond the drip zone, up to 35 feet away from the base of the tree. Rhizomes grow up to 3/4 inch in diameter.

There are three recognized varieties of Prunus virginiana. The variety demissa is commonly called western chokecherry. It produces dark red fruit. The variety melanocarpa produces black fruit. The variety virginiana produces crimson to deep red fruit. This variety can be found in two forms, one with red and one with white fruit.

Habitat: Chokecherry is found in a large geographic area and it grows abundantly in many habitat types and plant associations. It may be found in thin stands, as dense thickets or individually in open forest clearings. It prefers direct sunlight and is not an understory species of boreal forests.

Chokecherry occurs naturally in a wide range of soil types and textures. Soils supporting chokecherry vary considerably, from abandoned construction sites, with almost no soil depth or fertility, to deep virgin grasslands, with deep profiles and a high level of nutrients. Soil textures range from silt to sandy loam, it does not do well on heavy clay soils. Soil pH can vary from 5.2 (mildly acid) to 8.4 (moderately alkaline) without any adverse effect upon growth. Precipitation ranges from 13 to 65 inches annually. Sites range from low to mostly mid-elevation, although it also occurs from 8,000 to 10,000 feet in Idaho, Nevada and Utah. It is widely adaptable to temperature extremes. It is found in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 7 naturally. If planted, chokecherry will grow into zone 10. The four major limiting factors in its habitat are that it is intolerant of shade, poor drainage, frequent flooding and soils with a large amount of clay.

Many wildlife animals eat the fruit and distribute it. Birds are by far the most common carrier of the seeds. As a consequence it grows abundantly on places where birds rest, like along roadsides, fences, hedgerows, riparian margins and forest clearings.

Chokecherry is well adapted to fire disturbance. It can be top-killed by fire, but re-sprouts readily from root crowns and rhizomes. Seed germination is apparently improved with heat treatment, suggesting a further adaptation to fire.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Alternative names

common chokecherry, choke cherry, black chokecherry, red chokecherry, California chokecherry, Virginia chokecherry, eastern chokecherry, western chokecherry, rum chokecherry, whiskey chokecherry, wild cherry, wild blackcherry, bird cherry, jamcherry, chokeberry, cabinet cherry, chuckleyplum, sloe tree, bitter-berry, caupulin.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

1 Northern Pacific Border

2 Cascade Mountains

3 Southern Pacific Border

4 Sierra Mountains

5 Columbia Plateau

6 Upper Basin and Range

7 Lower Basin and Range

8 Northern Rocky Mountains

9 Middle Rocky Mountains

10 Wyoming Basin

11 Southern Rocky Mountains

12 Colorado Plateau

13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont

14 Great Plains

15 Black Hills Uplift

16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

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Occurrence in North America









AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE GA ID IL
IN IA KS KY ME MD MA MI MN MO
MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH
OK OR PA RI SD TN TX UT VT VA
WA WV WI WY DC



AB BC MB ON PQ SK



MEXICO

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Chokecherry is widely distributed throughout southern Canada and much of the United States. It occurs from Newfoundland to British Columbia and south to North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, California, and northern Mexico. Plants showing a gradation from black chokecherry to common chokecherry occur in Kansas and Nebraska. The three varieties are distributed as follows [59,72,73]:

common chokecherry - eastern variety; occurs from Saskatchewan to Newfoundland southward to Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee and North Carolina

black chokecherry - restricted to the western portion of North America; occurs in southern Canada from eastern British Columbia to Alberta and the Dakotas; southward throughout the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico; and along the east slope of the Cascade Range to northern California

western chokecherry - occurs from British Columbia southward into northern Mexico, Texas, and California (except the coast and Central Valley)
  • 59. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 72. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 73. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]

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Distribution: Chokecherry is found in all but eight states or territories. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: perfect, shrub, tree

Chokecherry is a native, deciduous, thicket-forming erect shrub or small tree. Stems are numerous and slender, either branching from the base or with main branches upright and spreading [166]. Heights vary considerably according to variety and site quality, ranging from 3 to 19.5 feet (1-6 m) [73]. In the Great Basin, chokecherry may grow to almost 40 feet (12 m) with trunk diameters of approximately 8 inches (20 cm) [92]. Perfect flowers are borne on leafy twigs of the season. Fruits are drupes, each containing a small stone [73]. Chokecherries have a network of rhizomes and a deep root system established at intervals along the rhizomes [129,140,175]. Roots may extend laterally more than 35 feet (10.6 m) and vertically more than 6 feet (1.8 m) [175]. Rhizomes range from 0.4 to 0.8 inch (1-2 cm) in diameter [129].
  • 73. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 92. Lanner, Ronald M. 1983. Trees of the Great Basin: A natural history. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press. 215 p. [1401]
  • 129. Schier, George A. 1983. Vegetative regeneration of Gambel oak and chokecherry from excised rhizomes. Forest Science. 29(30): 499-502. [2075]
  • 140. Stanton, Frank. 1974. Wildlife guidelines for range fire rehabilitation. Tech. Note 6712. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 90 p. [2221]
  • 166. Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 347 p. [15400]
  • 175. Yeager, A. F. 1935. Root systems of certain trees and shrubs grown on prairie soils. Journal of Agricultural Research. 51(12): 1085-1092. [3748]

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Ecology

Habitat

Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: cover, hardwood, natural, series, shrub, shrubs, tree, vines

The 3 chokecherry varieties occur in numerous habitat types and plant communities. Chokecherry often forms mixed stands with other tall shrubs. Common plant associates of chokecherry in some areas are listed below by state or province.

Idaho: Associated tall shrubs on logged sites in a northern Idaho western redcedar-western hemlock (Thuja plicata-Tsuga heterophylla) zone include Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum), Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), redstem ceanothus (Ceanothus sanguineus), snowbrush ceanothus (C. velutinus), dogwood (Cornus spp.), oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor), mockorange (Philadelphus lewisii), ninebark (Physocarpus malvaceus), bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata), cascara (Rhamnus purshiana), Scouler willow (Salix scouleriana), and red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) [173]. In southern and central Idaho, chokecherry occurs in a number of Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) habitat types, along with Pacific ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa), Rocky Mountain maple and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) [143].

Michigan: Chokecherry occurs in northern Lake Michigan coastal sand dune communities that range from 175 to 835 years old, but is most prevalent in communities 225 to 400 years old. Associated overstory dominants in mixed-pine forests in a similar 200-400 year range include balsam fir (Abies balsamifera), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), red pine (Pinus resinosa), white pine (Pinus strobus), white spruce (Picea strobus), and northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis) [99]. In northern white-cedar forests in lower northern Michigan, important plant associates are sugar maple (Acer saccharum), white ash (Fraxinus americana), mountain maple (Acer spicatum), paper birch, basswood (Tilia americana), alternate-leaved dogwood (C. alternifolia), ironwood (Ostrya virginiana) and balsam fir [3].

Minnesota: Northeastern forests: overstory species include quaking aspen, bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata), red pine, and jack pine (Pinus banksiana). Common tall shrub species include mountain maple, American green alder (Alnus viridis ssp. crispa), alternate-leaf dogwood, round-leaved dogwood (C. rugosa) and serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) [13].

In the northwestern forest and transition zones of Minnesota, overstory associates include bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), American elm (Ulmus americana), basswood, sugar maple, green ash, quaking aspen, paper birch, ironwood, and balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera). Common shrub associates include smooth sumac (Rhus glabra), dogwood (Cornus spp.), black cherry (Prunus serotina), and sugar maple. [31,47].

In Minnesota oak (Quercus spp.) savanna overstory dominants include bur oak and pin oak (Q. ellipsoidalis). Shrubs commonly associated with chokecherry include smooth sumac and American hazel (Corylus americana) [169].

Montana: Plant associates in riparian sites in western and central Montana include Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir, Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum), Pacific ponderosa pine, big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis) and ninebark [46,66,119]. In eastern Montana hardwood forests that extend into the Dakotas, chokecherry occurs commonly with green ash, plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides var. monilifera), American elm, and box elder (Acer negundo) [64,66,98,119].

Nevada and Utah; Dominant associated shrubs in sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) rangelands in northeastern Nevada and mountain brush communities in Utah include Saskatoon serviceberry, shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia), rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), green rabbitbrush (C. viscidiflorus), antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), mountain snowberry (Symphoricarpos oreophilus), Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii), Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii), ninebark, curlleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius), Rocky Mountain juniper, Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir, and white fir (Abies concolor). [11,33,79,90].

North Carolina: In a red spruce-Fraser fir (Picea rubens-Abies fraseri) forest in the Plott Balsam Mountains, chokecherry occurs with pin cherry, American mountain-ash (Sorbus americana), mountain maple, alternate-leaf dogwood, red maple (Acer rubrum), and willow (Salix spp.) species [128].

North Dakota: Chokecherry occurs in Missouri river slopes, floodplains, and also western woodlands. Tree associates are green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), box elder, American elm, bur oak, basswood, quaking aspen, paper birch, Rocky Mountain juniper, ponderosa pine, and limber pine (Pinus
flexilis). Common shrubs and woody vines in the floodplains include peach-leaved willow (S. amygdaloides), dogwood, western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis), eastern poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), Saskatoon serviceberry, woodbine (Parthenocissus inserta), and frost grape (Vitis vulpina) [56,64,82,98,171].

Pennsylvania: In central Pennsylvania mixed-oak valley floor forests, dominant species associated with chokecherry are white oak (Q. alba), red oak (Q. rubra), black oak (Q. velutina) and black cherry [2].

South Dakota and Wyoming: Hoffman and Alexander [77] describe a ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa var. scopulorum/chokecherry community type occurring on the Black Hills National Forest. Important associates in this community are Saskatoon serviceberry, white spirea (Spirea betulifolia), and Oregon-grape (Mahonia repens). The authors list chokecherry as an important component in bur oak, ponderosa pine and quaking aspen series of habitat types. River drainage species in green ash/chokecherry habitats are similar to those listed for North Dakota.

Vermont: In the Green Mountains chokecherry occurs where common overstory trees are sugar maple, American beech (Fagus grandifolia), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), red spruce, and balsam fir. Abundant understory shrub associates include striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum), mountain maple, pin cherry (P. pensylvanica), and American mountain-ash [136].

Wisconsin: In southwestern oak-hickory (Quercus-Carya spp.) forests (where replacement of oaks by others species is a recognized problem), chokecherry occurs where dominant overstory species include sugar maple, green ash, and slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) [100].

Chokecherry is listed as a dominant or indicator species in the following published classifications:

A preliminary classification of the natural vegetation of Colorado [12]

Vegetation and soils of the Rock Springs Watershed [21]

Native woodland ecology and habitat classification of southwestern North
Dakota [57]

The vegetation of the Grand River/Cedar River, Sioux, and Ashland Districts of the Custer National Forest: a habitat type classification [64]

The vegetation of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota: a habitat type classification [65]

Classification and Management of Montana's riparian and wetland sites [66]

Grassland, shrubland, and forestland habitat types of the White
River-Arapaho National Forest [71]

Habitat types on selected parts of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre National
Forests [85]

Aspen community types on the Caribou and Targhee National Forests in
southeastern Idaho [115]

Forest habitat types of Montana [119]

Rangeland cover types of the United States [135]

Plant associations (habitat types) of Region 2., 3rd ed. [157]

Aspen community types on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western
Wyoming [178]
  • 64. Hansen, Paul L.; Hoffman, George R. 1988. The vegetation of the Grand River/Cedar River, Sioux, and Ashland Districts of the Custer National Forest: a habitat type classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-157. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 68 p. [771]
  • 12. Baker, William L. 1984. A preliminary classification of the natural vegetation of Colorado. The Great Basin Naturalist. 44(4): 647-676. [380]
  • 21. Blackburn, Wilbert H.; Eckert, Richard E., Jr.; Tueller, Paul T. 1971. Vegetation and soils of the Rock Springs Watershed. R-83. Reno, NV: University of Nevada, Agricultural Experiment Station. 116 p. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. [457]
  • 65. Hansen, Paul L.; Hoffman, George R.; Bjugstad, Ardell J. 1984. The vegetation of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota: a habitat type classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-113. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 35 p. [1077]
  • 2. Abrams, Marc D.; Nowacki, Gregory J. 1992. Historical variation in fire, oak recruitment, and post-logging accelerated succession in central Pennsylvania. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 119(1): 19-28. [18210]
  • 3. Abrams, Marc D.; Scott, Michael L. 1989. Disturbance-mediated accelerated succession in two Michigan forest types. Forest Science. 35(1): 42-49. [6736]
  • 11. Austin, Dennis D.; Urness, Philip J.; Riggs, Robert. 1986. Vegetal change in the absence of livestock grazing, mountain brush zone, Utah. Journal of Range Management. 39(6): 514-517; 1986. [365]
  • 13. Balogh, James C.; Grigal, David F. 1988. Tall shrub dynamics in northern Minnesota aspen and conifer forests. Res. Pap. NC-283. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agricultural, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 18 p. [6689]
  • 31. Buell, Murray F.; Cantlon, John E. 1951. A study of two forest stands in Minnesota with an interpretation of the prairie-forest margin. Ecology. 32(2): 294-316. [3251]
  • 33. Christensen, Earl M. 1964. Succession in a mountain brush community in central Utah. Utah Academy Proceedings. 41(1): 10-13. [6913]
  • 46. Eichhorn, Larry C.; Watts, C. Robert. 1984. Plant succession on burns in the river breaks of central Montana. Proceedings, Montana Academy of Science. 43: 21-34. [15478]
  • 47. Ewing, J. 1924. Plant successions of the brush-prairie in north-western Minnesota. Journal of Ecology. 12: 238-266. [11122]
  • 56. Girard, Michele M.; Goetz, Harold; Bjugstad, Ardell J. 1987. Factors influencing woodlands of southwestern North Dakota. Prairie Naturalist. 19(3): 189-198. [2763]
  • 57. Girard, Michele Marie. 1985. Native woodland ecology and habitat classification of southwestern North Dakota. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University. 314 p. Dissertation. [1025]
  • 71. Hess, Karl; Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Grassland, shrubland, and forestland habitat types of the White River-Arapaho National Forest. Final Report. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 335 p. [1142]
  • 77. Hoffman, George R.; Alexander, Robert R. 1987. Forest vegetation of the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota and Wyoming: a habitat type classification. Res. Pap. RM-276. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 48 p. [1181]
  • 79. Jensen, M. E.; Peck, L. S.; Wilson, M. V. 1988. A sagebrush community type classification for mountainous northeastern Nevada rangelands. The Great Basin Naturalist. 48: 422-433. [27717]
  • 82. Keammerer, Warren R.; Johnson, W. Carter; Burgess, Robert L. 1975. Floristic analysis of the Missouri River bottomland forest in North Dakota. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 89: 5-19. [7447]
  • 85. Komarkova, Vera. 1986. Habitat types on selected parts of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre National Forests. Final Report Contract No. 28-K2-234. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 270 p. [1369]
  • 90. Kunzler, L. M.; Harper, K. T.; Kunzler, D. B. 1981. Compositional similarity within the oakbrush type in central and northern Utah. The Great Basin Naturalist. 41(1): 147-153. [1390]
  • 98. Lesica, Peter. 1989. The vegetation and condition of upland hardwood forests in eastern Montana. Proceedings, Montana Academy of Sciences. 49: 45-62. [30103]
  • 99. Lichter, John. 1998. Primary succession and forest development on coastal Lake Michigan sand dunes. Ecological Monographs. 68(4): 487-510. [29313]
  • 100. Lorimer, Craig G.; Chapman, Jonathan W.; Lambert, William D. 1994. Tall understorey vegetation as a factor in the poor development of oak seedlings beneath mature stands. Journal of Ecology. 82: 227-237. [24108]
  • 115. Mueggler, Walter F.; Campbell, Robert B., Jr. 1982. Aspen community types on the Caribou and Targhee National Forests in southeastern Idaho. Res. Pap. INT-294. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 32 p. [1713]
  • 119. Pfister, Robert D.; Kovalchik, Bernard L.; Arno, Stephen F.; Presby, Richard C. 1977. Forest habitat types of Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-34. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 174 p. [1878]
  • 128. Saunders, Paul R.; Smathers, Garrett A.; Ramseur, George S. 1983. Secondary succession of a spruce-fir burn in the Plott Balsam Mountains, North Carolina. Castanea. 48(1): 41-47. [8658]
  • 135. Shiflet, Thomas N., ed. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management. 152 p. [23362]
  • 136. Siccama, T. G. 1974. Vegetation, soil, and climate on the Green Mountains of Vermont. Ecological Monographs. 44: 325-249. [6859]
  • 143. Steele, Robert; Geier-Hayes, Kathleen. 1995. Major Douglas-fir habitat types of central Idaho: a summary of succession and management. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-331. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 23 p. [29363]
  • 157. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. 1983. Plant associations (habitat types) of Region 2.,3rd ed. Lakewood, CO. 224 p. [2385]
  • 169. White, Alan S. 1986. Prescribed burning for oak savanna restoration in central Minnesota. Res. Pap. NC-266. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 12 p. [3487]
  • 171. Wikum, D. A.; Wali, M. K. 1974. Analysis of a North Dakota gallery forest: vegetation in relation to topographic and soil gradients. Ecological Monographs. 44: 441-464. [25444]
  • 173. Wittinger, W. T.; Pengelly, W. L.; Irwin, L. L.; Peek, J. M. 1977. A 20-year record of shrub succession in logged areas in the cedar- hemlock zone of northern Idaho. Northwest Science. 51(3): 161-171. [6828]
  • 178. Youngblood, Andrew P.; Mueggler, Walter F. 1981. Aspen community types on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming. Res. Pap. INT-272. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 34 p. [2685]
  • 66. Hansen, Paul L.; Pfister, Robert D.; Boggs, Keith; [and others]. 1995. Classification and management of Montana's riparian and wetland sites. Miscellaneous Publication No. 54. Missoula, MT: The University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 646 p. [24768]

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Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass

109 Ponderosa pine shrubland

201 Blue oak woodland

203 Riparian woodland

206 Chamise chaparral

207 Scrub oak mixed chaparral

208 Ceanothus mixed chaparral

209 Montane shrubland

210 Bitterbrush

302 Bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass

303 Bluebunch wheatgrass-western wheatgrass

306 Idaho fescue-slender wheatgrass

312 Rough fescue-Idaho fescue

314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass

315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue

317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass

322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass

401 Basin big sagebrush

402 Mountain big sagebrush

403 Wyoming big sagebrush

404 Black sagebrush

405 Low sagebrush

408 Other sagebrush types

409 Tall forb

411 Aspen woodland

412 Juniper-pinyon woodland

413 Gambel oak

415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany

418 Bigtooth maple

419 Bittercherry

420 Snowbrush

421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose

422 Riparian

503 Arizona chaparral

504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland

603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass

606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass

607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass

608 Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass

710 Bluestem prairie

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

K002 Cedar-hemlock-Douglas-fir forest

K003 Silver fir-Douglas-fir forest

K005 Mixed conifer forest

K011 Western ponderosa forest

K012 Douglas-fir forest

K013 Cedar-hemlock-pine forest

K014 Grand fir-Douglas-fir forest

K015 Western spruce-fir forest

K016 Eastern ponderosa forest

K017 Black Hills pine forest

K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest

K019 Arizona pine forest

K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest

K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest

K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland

K024 Juniper steppe woodland

K026 Oregon oakwoods

K028 Mosaic of K002 and K026

K029 California mixed evergreen forest

K030 California oakwoods

K033 Chaparral

K034 Montane chaparral

K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub

K038 Great Basin sagebrush

K051 Wheatgrass-bluegrass

K055 Sagebrush steppe

K063 Foothills prairie

K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass

K065 Grama-buffalo grass

K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass

K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass

K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass

K074 Bluestem prairie

K081 Oak savanna

K095 Great Lakes pine forest

K097 Southeastern spruce-fir forest

K098 Northern floodplain forest

K099 Maple-basswood forest

K100 Oak-hickory

K101 Elm-ash forest

K102 Beech-maple forest

K103 Mixed mesophytic forest

K106 Northern hardwoods

K107 Northern hardwoods-fir forest

K108 Northern hardwoods-spruce forest

K111 Oak-hickory-pine

K112 Southern mixed forest

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES10 White-red-jack pine

FRES11 Spruce-fir

FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine

FRES14 Oak-pine

FRES15 Oak-hickory

FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood

FRES18 Maple-beech-birch

FRES19 Aspen-birch

FRES20 Douglas-fir

FRES21 Ponderosa pine

FRES23 Fir-spruce

FRES26 Lodgepole pine

FRES28 Western hardwoods

FRES29 Sagebrush

FRES30 Desert shrub

FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub

FRES35 Pinyon-juniper

FRES36 Mountain grasslands

FRES38 Plains grasslands

FRES39 Prairie

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Habitat characteristics

In the western United States, chokecherry grows at low to mid-elevations in positions in the landscape where combinations of soil and topography permit greater than average accumulation of moisture. These sites include riparian areas, wooded draws, and steep ravines [43,64,65,66,149,163]. Soils supporting chokecherry are variable, ranging from Entisols to Mollisols, and soil texture ranges from silt to sandy loam. Chokecherry can tolerate weakly saline soils but is intolerant of poor drainage and prolonged flooding [66].

Chokecherry grows in very acid to moderately alkaline soils. In the green ash/chokecherry habitat type in the northern Great Plains, pH ranged from 6.0 to 7.6 in loam, clay, and clay loam [65,163]. In deciduous forests in Vermont, glacial till soils supporting chokecherry had a pH ranging from 3.5 to 5.5 [136]. Where chokecherry occurred in forests growing on coastal Lake Michigan sand dunes, pH ranged from approximately 4.0 to 6.0 [99]. In Pennsylvania, soils in oak-pine supporting chokecherry grew on well-drained limestone residuum soil and had a pH range from 4.8 to 5.4 [2].

Elevational ranges for chokecherry are:

Idaho: 3,100 to 8,000 feet (945-2440 m) [143,173]
Michigan: 580 to 738 feet (177-225 m) [99]
Montana: 580 to 738 feet (177-225 m) [46,66,119]
Nevada and Utah: 4,986 to 10,170 feet (1520-3100 m) [11,33,79,90]
North Dakota: 1,023 to 1,095 feet (312-334 m) [171]
South Dakota: 3,002 to 3,494 feet (915-1065 m) [77]
Vermont: 1,797 to 2,798 feet (548-853 m) [136]
  • 64. Hansen, Paul L.; Hoffman, George R. 1988. The vegetation of the Grand River/Cedar River, Sioux, and Ashland Districts of the Custer National Forest: a habitat type classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-157. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 68 p. [771]
  • 65. Hansen, Paul L.; Hoffman, George R.; Bjugstad, Ardell J. 1984. The vegetation of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota: a habitat type classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-113. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 35 p. [1077]
  • 2. Abrams, Marc D.; Nowacki, Gregory J. 1992. Historical variation in fire, oak recruitment, and post-logging accelerated succession in central Pennsylvania. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 119(1): 19-28. [18210]
  • 11. Austin, Dennis D.; Urness, Philip J.; Riggs, Robert. 1986. Vegetal change in the absence of livestock grazing, mountain brush zone, Utah. Journal of Range Management. 39(6): 514-517; 1986. [365]
  • 33. Christensen, Earl M. 1964. Succession in a mountain brush community in central Utah. Utah Academy Proceedings. 41(1): 10-13. [6913]
  • 43. Dooley, Karen L.; Collins, Scott L. 1984. Ordination and classification of western oak forests in Oklahoma. American Journal of Botany. 71(9): 1221-1227. [11543]
  • 46. Eichhorn, Larry C.; Watts, C. Robert. 1984. Plant succession on burns in the river breaks of central Montana. Proceedings, Montana Academy of Science. 43: 21-34. [15478]
  • 77. Hoffman, George R.; Alexander, Robert R. 1987. Forest vegetation of the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota and Wyoming: a habitat type classification. Res. Pap. RM-276. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 48 p. [1181]
  • 79. Jensen, M. E.; Peck, L. S.; Wilson, M. V. 1988. A sagebrush community type classification for mountainous northeastern Nevada rangelands. The Great Basin Naturalist. 48: 422-433. [27717]
  • 90. Kunzler, L. M.; Harper, K. T.; Kunzler, D. B. 1981. Compositional similarity within the oakbrush type in central and northern Utah. The Great Basin Naturalist. 41(1): 147-153. [1390]
  • 99. Lichter, John. 1998. Primary succession and forest development on coastal Lake Michigan sand dunes. Ecological Monographs. 68(4): 487-510. [29313]
  • 119. Pfister, Robert D.; Kovalchik, Bernard L.; Arno, Stephen F.; Presby, Richard C. 1977. Forest habitat types of Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-34. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 174 p. [1878]
  • 136. Siccama, T. G. 1974. Vegetation, soil, and climate on the Green Mountains of Vermont. Ecological Monographs. 44: 325-249. [6859]
  • 143. Steele, Robert; Geier-Hayes, Kathleen. 1995. Major Douglas-fir habitat types of central Idaho: a summary of succession and management. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-331. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 23 p. [29363]
  • 149. Szaro, Robert C. 1981. Bird population responses to converting chaparral to grassland and riparian habitats. The Southwestern Naturalist. 26(3): 251-256. [13675]
  • 163. Voorhees, Marguerite E.; Uresk, Daniel W. 1992. Relating soil chemistry and plant relationships in wooded draws of the northern Great Plains. The Great Basin Naturalist. 52(1): 35-40. [19476]
  • 171. Wikum, D. A.; Wali, M. K. 1974. Analysis of a North Dakota gallery forest: vegetation in relation to topographic and soil gradients. Ecological Monographs. 44: 441-464. [25444]
  • 173. Wittinger, W. T.; Pengelly, W. L.; Irwin, L. L.; Peek, J. M. 1977. A 20-year record of shrub succession in logged areas in the cedar- hemlock zone of northern Idaho. Northwest Science. 51(3): 161-171. [6828]
  • 66. Hansen, Paul L.; Pfister, Robert D.; Boggs, Keith; [and others]. 1995. Classification and management of Montana's riparian and wetland sites. Miscellaneous Publication No. 54. Missoula, MT: The University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 646 p. [24768]

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Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

1 Jack pine

5 Balsam fir

14 Northern pin oak

15 Red pine

16 Aspen

17 Pin cherry

18 Paper birch

19 Gray birch-red maple

20 White pine-northern red oak-red maple

21 Eastern white pine

22 White pine-hemlock

23 Eastern hemlock

24 Hemlock-yellow birch

25 Sugar maple-beech-yellow birch

26 Sugar maple-basswood

27 Sugar maple

28 Black cherry-maple

40 Post oak-blackjack oak

42 Bur oak

60 Beech-sugar maple

63 Cottonwood

80 Loblolly pine-shortleaf pine

81 Loblolly pine

82 Loblolly pine-hardwood

93 Sugarberry-American elm-green ash

108 Red maple

206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir

210 Interior Douglas-fir

211 White fir

212 Western larch

213 Grand fir

216 Blue spruce

217 Aspen

218 Lodgepole pine

219 Limber pine

220 Rocky Mountain juniper

222 Black cottonwood-willow

229 Pacific Douglas-fir

230 Douglas-fir-western hemlock

231 Port-Orford-cedar

233 Oregon white oak

234 Douglas-fir-tanoak-Pacific madrone

235 Cottonwood-willow

236 Bur oak

237 Interior ponderosa pine

238 Western juniper

239 Pinyon-juniper

243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer

245 Pacific ponderosa pine

244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir

247 Jeffrey pine

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Dispersal

Establishment

Nursery grown seedlings establish satisfactorily if planted free of competition in areas having 15 or more inches of annual precipitation. If seeds are planted in the spring they should be pre-chilled for 3 months, then placed about 1/2 inch deep. Saplings are not tolerant of weedy competition for 2 to 3 years after planting. Use of weed barrier mat, a strict cultivation regime, or proper herbicide treatment is necessary if a successful planting is to occur. Check with your local NRCS Field Office to determine if chokecherry is adapted to your area or soils before planting any trees.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Chokecherry in Illinois

Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry)
(bees suck nectar or collect pollen; information is restricted to Andrenid bees; observations are from Krombein et al.)

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

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: cover, fire exclusion, shrub, tree

Chokecherry is a component of persistent, fire-maintained seral shrubfields on steep slopes in Northern Idaho. Fuels in shrubfields differ in quantity and distribution from those on forested sites. Herbaceous and large woody fuels are relatively light. Live and dead shrub biomass, which includes chokecherry, can reach nearly 20 tons per acre. After fires, which are severe during summer drought conditions, dense shrub cover regenerates within 10 years. Trees regenerate slowly or not at all on these dry sites, because of erosion, depleted soil organic matter, high soil temperatures, and lack of seed [138].

Arno [7] hypothesized that relatively frequent fires set by Native Americans in western grassland and sagebrush communities, where chokecherry occurs, favored expansion of grasslands into adjacent shrub or tree communities. In recent times shrub and tree communities have developed in former grasslands due to fire exclusion and grazing. Arno argues that baseline information on Native American use of fire will aid land managers in predicting vegetative development under different FIRE REGIMES.

Morber and Miyanishi [112] studied fire as a tool for controlling chokecherry and black cherry in Ontario oak savanna. A controlled spring burn had no effect on chokecherry seedlings. Postfire seedling emergence was concluded to be largely dependent on postfire seed production or seed influx from adjacent unburned areas, because there was no viable soil seedbank.
  • 7. Arno, Stephen F. 1985. Ecological effects and management implications of Indian fires. In: Lotan, James E.; Kilgore, Bruce M.; Fisher, William C.; Mutch, Robert W., technical coordinators. Proceedings--Symposium and workshop on wilderness fire; 1983 November 15-18; Missoula, MT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-182. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 81-86. [7357]
  • 112. Morber, Brian E.; Miyanishi, Kiyoko. 1995. Post-fire regeneration of black cherry and chokecheery in a southern Ontario oak savanna. In: Brown, James K.; Mutch, Robert W.; Spoon, Charles W.; Wakimoto, Ronald H., technical coordinators. Proceedings: symposium on fire in wilderness and park management; 1993 March 30 - April 1; Missoula, MT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-320. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 234-236. [26223]
  • 138. Smith, Jane Kapler; Fischer, William C. 1997. Fire ecology of the forest habitat types of northern Idaho. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-363. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 142 p. [27992]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the term: prescribed fire

The Research Project Summaries
Understory recovery after low- and high-intensity fires in northern Idaho ponderosa pine forests
and Understory recovery after burning
and reburning quaking aspen stands in central Alberta
, and the Research Paper by Bowles and others 2007
provide information on prescribed fire and postfire response of several plant species
including chokecherry.

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, crown fire, density, fire frequency, fire severity, flame length, frequency, fuel, litter, prescribed burn, severity, shrubs, surface fire, understory fire

Most studies report either an increase in chokecherry in the years following fire, or an increase followed by a return to prefire numbers. After wildfires in the oakbrush zone in Utah, McKell [105] reported twice as many chokecherry stems sprouting from root crowns on 1-year-old burns than on adjacent unburned sites. A reduction to prefire densities occurred within 18 years.

Following wildfires in Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir/Rocky Mountain juniper/Wyoming big sagebrush associations in the Missouri Breaks area of central Montana, chokecherry canopy cover increased consistently for 13 years, then stabilized [46].

Bock and Bock [22] compared data from prescribed October burns in 1974 and 1979 in the South Dakota Black Hills. The 1974 burn escaped and became a crown fire, killing ponderosa pines of all sizes. The 1979 fire remained a controlled understory fire. When measured in 1981, the 1974 burn site supported higher densities of all woody taxa except chokecherry and western poison-ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii). There was no significant difference (P = 0.71) in numbers of chokecherry plants between the 2 burn sites. Measurements taken within the 1979 surface fire site (prefire, postfire yr 1, and postfire yr 2) showed that chokecherry stems were not significantly (P = 0.75) reduced by the fire.

Geier-Hayes [53] included chokecherry in a study of vegetation response to helicopter logging and broadcast burning in an Idaho Douglas-fir forest. Data were collected in 3 cutting units prior to burning and 1,2,5 and 10 years after. Fire severity was higher in 2 of the units and altered the vegetation from the original. Fires classed at a severity level of 2M [126] were less severe and had little or no impact on chokecherry percent cover and root frequency. 2M fires are characterized as having a flame length of 2 to 4 feet (0.6-1.2 m) and a corresponding crown scorch height of 9 to 24 feet (2.7-7.3 m), with moderate ground charring. The units that burned hotter, having a severity rating of 3M had markedly less chokecherry cover and root frequency during all postburn years measured. 3M fires have flame lengths of 8 to 12 feet (2.4-3.7 m), corresponding crown scorch to 64 feet (20 m), with moderate ground charring.

Following a September prescribed burn in a quaking aspen stand in Idaho, chokecherry biomass exceeded preburn biomass within 2 seasons and was double preburn biomass after 5 seasons [29]. Biomass was computed using weight versus stem diameter relationships [28]. Details of fuel conditions are provided: litter and woody material moisture content was 8 to 9% and herbaceous vegetation was 40 to 50% cured. Fire severity was rated as moderate to high [126].

After 24 years of annual early spring burning in quaking aspen parklands in Alberta, chokecherry percent cover had decreased but the number of stems increased in density from 6% to 15% [5].

In a 20-year study of the effects of fire frequency on Minnesota oak savanna herbs and shrubs, Tester [150,151] determined that increased fire frequency tended to increase the density of native, true prairie shrubs and decrease the density of native, non-prairie shrubs (including chokecherry). Chokecherry cover estimates were negatively correlated with burn frequency (r = -0.51, P = 0.09).
  • 5. Anderson, Howard G.; Bailey, Arthur W. 1980. Effects of annual burning on grassland in the aspen parkland of east-central Alberta. Canadian Journal of Botany. 58: 985-996. [3499]
  • 22. Bock, Jane H.; Bock, Carl E. 1984. Effects of fires on woody vegetation in the pine-grassland ecotone of the southern Black Hills. The American Midland Naturalist. 112(1): 35-42. [477]
  • 28. Brown, J. K. 1976. Estimating shrub biomass from basal stem diameters. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 6: 153-358. [10107]
  • 29. Brown, James K.; DeByle, Norbert V. 1989. Effects of prescribed fire on biomass and plant succession in western aspen. Res. Pap. INT-412. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 16 p. [9286]
  • 46. Eichhorn, Larry C.; Watts, C. Robert. 1984. Plant succession on burns in the river breaks of central Montana. Proceedings, Montana Academy of Science. 43: 21-34. [15478]
  • 53. Geier-Hayes, Kathleen. 1989. Vegetation response to helicopter logging and broadcast burning in Douglas-fir habitat types at Silver Creek, central Idaho. Res. Pap. INT-405. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 24 p. [6810]
  • 105. McKell, Cyrus M. 1950. A study of plant succession in the oak brush (Quercus gambelii) zone after fire. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah. 79 p. Thesis. [1608]
  • 126. Ryan, Kevin C.; Noste, Nonan V. 1985. Evaluating prescribed fires. In: Lotan, James E.; Kilgore, Bruce M.; Fischer, William C.; Mutch, Robert W., technical coordinators. Proceedings--symposium and workshop on wilderness fire; 1983 November 15-18; Missoula, MT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-182. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 230-238. [12456]
  • 150. Tester, John R. 1989. Effects of fire frequency on oak savanna in east-central Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 116(2): 134-144. [9281]
  • 151. Tester, John R. 1996. Effects of fire frequency on plant species in oak savanna in east-central Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 123(4): 304-308. [28035]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the terms: fire intensity, prescribed burn, prescribed fire, shrubs

Fire often kills aboveground chokecherry stems and foliage, but it quickly sprouts, either the same year following a spring burn, or by the next growing season [97,105,162,166,177]. In the South Dakota Black Hills chokecherry sprouts were double the preburn numbers within 2 months of an early May burn [51]. Conversely, in an early May prescribed burn in central Alberta quaking aspen parkland, chokecherry shrubs did not sprout within the first 3 months following burning [63]. Fire intensity was not described for either study.

A prescribed fire study was conducted in northern Idaho to test the effect of spring versus fall burning on elk browse. Measurements were made of crown diameter, crown height, number of basal sprouts, and sprout height before and after each burn. Postfire measurements were made on 11 shrubs the first growing season after the fall burns. Seasonal fire effects were similar for chokecherry crown diameter, crown height, and sprout height. Though not statistically significant (at P = 0.05), the number of chokecherry basal sprouts was somewhat higher after the spring burn, suggesting that spring burning may be more conducive to the rapid recovery of chokecherry than fall burning [97].
  • 51. Gartner, F. Robert. 1975. Final Report: Wind Cave National Park grassland ecology. Unpublished paper on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station Intermountain Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT: 29 p. [3869]
  • 97. Leege, Thomas A.; Hickey, William O. 1966. Lochsa elk study. Big Game Surveys and Investigations: W 85-R-17, Job No. 8. July 1, 1965 to June 30, 1966. Boise, ID: State of Idaho Fish and Game Department. 22 p. [16759]
  • 105. McKell, Cyrus M. 1950. A study of plant succession in the oak brush (Quercus gambelii) zone after fire. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah. 79 p. Thesis. [1608]
  • 162. Volland, Leonard A.; Dell, John D. 1981. Fire effects on Pacific Northwest forest and range vegetation. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Range Management and Aviation and Fire Management. 23 p. [2434]
  • 166. Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 347 p. [15400]
  • 177. Young, Richard P. 1983. Fire as a vegetation management tool in rangelands of the Intermountain Region. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Shaw, Nancy, compilers. Managing Intermountain rangelands--improvement of range and wildlife habitats: Proceedings; 1981 September 15-17; Twin Falls, ID; 1982 June 22-24; Elko, NV. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-157. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 18-31. [2681]
  • 63. Hansen, Henry L.; Kurmis, Vilis. 1972. Natural succession in north-central Minnesota. In: Aspen: Symposium proceedings; [Date of conference unknown]; Duluth, MN. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-1. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 59-66. [12040]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: ground residual colonizer, root crown, root sucker, shrub

Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/soboliferous species root sucker
Tall shrub, adventitious-bud root crown
Small shrub, adventitious-bud root crown
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fire interval, natural, top-kill

Chokecherry is well adapted to disturbance by fire [5,25,52,97,105,174,177]. Although susceptible to to top-kill by fire, it resprouts rapidly and prolifically from surviving root crowns and rhizomes [51,97,105,162,166]. Several studies reporting chokecherry recovery by sprouting are discussed in the Fire Effects section of this report. Seed germination improves with heat treatment, suggesting scarification by fire is an important adaptation [127]. Postfire regeneration probably also involves the germination of off-site seed dispersed by mammals and birds [162].

No data were found for natural intervals of fire in stands that consist mainly of chokecherry. Gartner [52] provides a description of pre and post-settlement accounts of fire in the grasslands and ponderosa forests of the Black Hills of South Dakota. The historical information is detailed, but fire return intervals are not given. Hansen [63] provides limited historical and fire interval information for Minnesota forests in Isle Royale National Park, Itasca State Park, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Twenty-six lighting fires were recorded on Isle Royale from 1965 to 1949. In Itasca State Park the incidence of fires caused by lighting or set by Indians before 1859 averaged about one fire every 12 years. In the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, major fires recurred at 5- to 50-year intervals from 1600 to 1920.

FIRE REGIMES for other plant communities in which chokecherry occurs are summarized below. For further information regarding FIRE REGIMES and fire ecology of communities where chokecherry is found, see the Fire Ecology and Adaptations section of the FEIS species summary for the plant community or ecosystem dominants.

Community or Ecosystem Scientific Name of Dominant Species Mean Fire Return Interval
Pacific ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa 1-47 yrs
Rocky Mountain ponderosa pine* P. ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-10 yrs [30]
Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine* P. contorta var. latifolia 50-300+ yrs [6,125]
Colorado pinyon P. edulis 10-49 yrs
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 40-140 yrs [30]
Wyoming big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis 10-70 yrs [161,176]
mountain big sagebrush A. tridentata var. vaseyana 5-15 yrs
curlleaf mountain-mahogany* Cercocarpus ledifolius 13-1,350 yrs [9,132]
quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains) Populus tremuloides 7-100 yrs [61,106]
*fire return intervals vary widely; trends in variation are noted in the FEIS species summary
  • 9. Arno, Stephen F.; Wilson, Andrew E. 1986. Dating past fires in curlleaf mountain-mahogany communities. Journal of Range Management. 39(3): 241-243. [350]
  • 5. Anderson, Howard G.; Bailey, Arthur W. 1980. Effects of annual burning on grassland in the aspen parkland of east-central Alberta. Canadian Journal of Botany. 58: 985-996. [3499]
  • 174. Wright, Henry A.; Bailey, Arthur W. 1982. Fire ecology: United States and southern Canada. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 501 p. [2620]
  • 6. Arno, Stephen F. 1980. Forest fire history in the northern Rockies. Journal of Forestry. 78(8): 460-465. [11990]
  • 25. Brockway, Dale G.; Lewis, Clifford E. 1997. Long-term effects of dormant-season prescribed fire on plant community diversity, structure and productivity in a lonleaf pine wiregrass ecosystem. Forest Ecology and Management. 96: 167-183. [29222]
  • 51. Gartner, F. Robert. 1975. Final Report: Wind Cave National Park grassland ecology. Unpublished paper on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station Intermountain Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT: 29 p. [3869]
  • 52. Gartner, F. Robert; Thompson, Wesley W. 1973. Fire in the Black Hills forest-grass ecotone. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, TX. No. 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 37-68. [1002]
  • 61. Gruell, G. E.; Loope, L. L. 1974. Relationships among aspen, fire, and ungulate browsing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Lakewood, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Region. 33 p. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Region. [3862]
  • 97. Leege, Thomas A.; Hickey, William O. 1966. Lochsa elk study. Big Game Surveys and Investigations: W 85-R-17, Job No. 8. July 1, 1965 to June 30, 1966. Boise, ID: State of Idaho Fish and Game Department. 22 p. [16759]
  • 105. McKell, Cyrus M. 1950. A study of plant succession in the oak brush (Quercus gambelii) zone after fire. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah. 79 p. Thesis. [1608]
  • 106. Meinecke, E. P. 1929. Quaking aspen: A study in applied forest pathology. Tech. Bull. No. 155. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 34 p. [26669]
  • 125. Romme, William H. 1982. Fire and landscape diversity in subalpine forests of Yellowstone National Park. Ecological Monographs. 52(2): 199-221. [9696]
  • 127. Sampson, Arthur W. 1944. Plant succession on burned chaparral lands in northern California. Bull. 65. Berkeley, CA: University of California, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 144 p. [2050]
  • 132. Schultz, Brad W. 1987. Ecology of curlleaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) in western and central Nevada: population structure and dynamics. Reno, NV: University of Nevada. 111 p. Thesis. [7064]
  • 161. Vincent, Dwain W. 1992. The sagebrush/grasslands of the upper Rio Puerco Area, New Mexico. Rangelands. 14(5): 268-271. [19698]
  • 162. Volland, Leonard A.; Dell, John D. 1981. Fire effects on Pacific Northwest forest and range vegetation. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Range Management and Aviation and Fire Management. 23 p. [2434]
  • 166. Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 347 p. [15400]
  • 176. Young, James A.; Evans, Raymond A. 1981. Demography and fire history of a western juniper stand. Journal of Range Management. 34(6): 501-505. [2659]
  • 177. Young, Richard P. 1983. Fire as a vegetation management tool in rangelands of the Intermountain Region. In: Monsen, Stephen B.; Shaw, Nancy, compilers. Managing Intermountain rangelands--improvement of range and wildlife habitats: Proceedings; 1981 September 15-17; Twin Falls, ID; 1982 June 22-24; Elko, NV. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-157. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 18-31. [2681]
  • 30. Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. [In press]. Wildland fire in ecosystems: effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. [33874]
  • 63. Hansen, Henry L.; Kurmis, Vilis. 1972. Natural succession in north-central Minnesota. In: Aspen: Symposium proceedings; [Date of conference unknown]; Duluth, MN. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-1. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 59-66. [12040]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: association, climax, cover, density, hardwood, series, severity, shrub, shrubs, succession, tree, wildfire

Because chokecherry occurs so widely, it is reported in numerous habitat types and plant associations that range from post-disturbance invaders to early-successional to climax or stable. It grows in sparse stands, dense thickets, and under open forest canopies [64,66,116,119]. It is shade tolerant [31,64,99,100], but reaches its greatest density near forest edges [64,65]. Plant association descriptions for most the studies discussed below appear in the Distribution and Occurrence section of this species report.

EASTERN AND CENTRAL REGION-
In the eastern and central region of the U.S. and Canada, chokecherry occurs in a broad range of successional habitats. It been studied in both seral and climax or stable communities. It sprouts readily and also persists under open and closed forest canopies.

Chokecherry was characterized as early-successional following logging and (or) burning in northern white-cedar and jack pine forests in Michigan [1]. Chokecherry was mid-successional in coastal Lake Michigan chronosequences that focused on long-term vegetation succession on sand dunes, reaching its greatest abundance after pine and oak cover was well developed [99,117].

In Pennsylvania mixed-oak forests chokecherry was described as a later-successional understory species where the overstory is dominated by oak and pine [2].

In a 1924 study of succession in northwestern Minnesota chokecherry was prominent in non-climax brush stands in ecotones between prairie and deciduous forests [47]. In a 1951 study in northern Minnesota chokecherry was noted as a major component in the sparse shrub layer of a climax maple-basswood forest. The maple-basswood forest was characterized as having light penetration of less than 5%, indicating shade tolerance, at least in mature chokecherry [31].

In a 1964 study in Vermont, chokecherry was one of 14 shrub species documented in the understory of an old, undisturbed remnant of northern hardwood forest. Sugar maple, beech, and white ash were overstory dominants. The authors predicted that this assemblage replaces itself in forest succession, creating a stable overstory community [23].

In Ontario, following forest clearcutting and brush removal for a utility right-of-way, chokecherry was a prominent initial colonizer. The original forest cover was dominated by sugar maple, white ash, quaking aspen and black cherry. In addition to abundant chokecherry seedlings, raspberry (Rubus spp.) seedlings and sprouts, and sprouts from quaking aspen were also prolific initial colonizers. After 6 years chokecherry and quaking aspen stems had declined and white ash stems had become most numerous. The author indicated that rapid invasion by chokecherry and raspberry, followed by replacement with more shade-tolerant species was a common pattern of secondary succession [27].

In southern and western North Dakota chokecherry is an indicator species for the green ash/chokecherry woodland habitat type [64,65]. This habitat type is characterized as a topographic climax. Where disturbance from livestock grazing is heavy, shrub cover is greatly reduced and unpalatable western snowberry becomes dominant. Tree seedlings and saplings decline, leaving only older trees and an open understory [65]. In southern North Dakota chokecherry is an indicator species for the interior ponderosa pine/chokecherry habitat type, determined to be an edaphic climax. In undisturbed vegetation of this type, ponderosa pine forms a closed overstory and chokecherry shrubs reach about 3.28 feet (1 m) in height. Chokecherry responds to fire in these stands by sprouting vegetatively, and as succession advances following fire, chokecherry gradually increases while other shrubs decrease [64]. The green ash/chokecherry and interior ponderosa pine/chokecherry habitat types also occur in South Dakota and eastern Montana [64,66,77,119].

WESTERN STATES-
In the western United States, chokecherry is usually identified as seral but persists under closed canopies in mature conifer forests and in riparian areas. Central Rocky Mountain quaking aspen stands, where chokecherry is prevalent in the tall shrub layer, are thought to be a regional transition zone between sporadic groves and extensive forests. The quaking aspen/chokecherry community is categorized as seral [114].

In a classification of forest habitats of Montana [119], chokecherry is documented in numerous habitat types within forest climax series for limber pine, ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and Engelmann spruce. In that classification it is also an indicator species for a ponderosa pine/chokecherry type present in eastern Montana (see discussion in North Dakota section above). In river drainages of central Montana, Eichorn and Watts [46] studied succession following wildfire. In burned north-slope sites characterized by a Douglas-fir/common juniper association, chokecherry, snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.) and rose (Rosa spp.) were predominant among shrubs that increased significantly (P less than 0.05) in years 5 through 28 following burning. In Douglas-fir habitat types in western Montana, chokecherry becomes common after stand-replacing wildfires and clearcuts with or without subsequent broadcast burns [8].

In central Idaho chokecherry is classified by Steele and Geier-Hayes [143] as mid-seral in 7 Douglas-fir habitat types. Though seral to Douglas-fir climax forests, these sites may be dominated by open-canopy stands of fire-maintained ponderosa pine. Chokecherry may regenerate vegetatively or by seed following logging or burning, depending on the type and severity of the disturbance.

In a central Utah study, Christensen [33] reported that although mountain brush stands are often interpreted as stable, chokecherry was among 10 shrub species in a mountain brush stand undergoing transition to a conifer stand dominated by white fir and Douglas-fir. The author interpreted the transition as primary succession because no evidence was found of disturbance by livestock use, fire or logging. Chokecherry is common in Gambel oak communities in Utah, which Kunzler and others [90] predicted might succeed to ponderosa pine, bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum), or white fir and Douglas-fir, depending on site conditions. Chokecherry is common in northern Utah quaking aspen stands, which are reported to succeed to conifer stands [14]. In a study of early succession following clearcutting of quaking aspen, chokecherry and snowberry were "by far" the most dominant shrubs in uncut control plots. In the 4 years following clearcutting, percent composition of chokecherry in the undergrowth increased by much as 5 times over that in the control plots. The authors did not indicate the method of chokecherry regeneration in the clearcuts [14].
  • 64. Hansen, Paul L.; Hoffman, George R. 1988. The vegetation of the Grand River/Cedar River, Sioux, and Ashland Districts of the Custer National Forest: a habitat type classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-157. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 68 p. [771]
  • 1. Abrams, Marc D.; Dickmann, Donald I. 1982. Early revegetation of clear-cut and burned jack pine sites in northern lower Michigan. Canadian Journal of Botany. 60: 946-954. [7238]
  • 65. Hansen, Paul L.; Hoffman, George R.; Bjugstad, Ardell J. 1984. The vegetation of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota: a habitat type classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-113. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 35 p. [1077]
  • 2. Abrams, Marc D.; Nowacki, Gregory J. 1992. Historical variation in fire, oak recruitment, and post-logging accelerated succession in central Pennsylvania. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 119(1): 19-28. [18210]
  • 8. Arno, Stephen F.; Simmerman, Dennis G.; Keane, Robert E. 1985. Forest succession on four habitat types in western Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-177. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 74 p. [349]
  • 23. Bormann, F. H.; Buell, M. F. 1964. Old-age stand of hemlock-northern hardwood forest in central Vermont. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 91(6): 451-465. [8856]
  • 27. Brown, Doug. 1994. The development of woody vegetation in the first 6 years following clear-cutting of a hardwood forest for a utility right-of-way. Forest Ecology and Management. 65: 171-181. [24161]
  • 31. Buell, Murray F.; Cantlon, John E. 1951. A study of two forest stands in Minnesota with an interpretation of the prairie-forest margin. Ecology. 32(2): 294-316. [3251]
  • 33. Christensen, Earl M. 1964. Succession in a mountain brush community in central Utah. Utah Academy Proceedings. 41(1): 10-13. [6913]
  • 46. Eichhorn, Larry C.; Watts, C. Robert. 1984. Plant succession on burns in the river breaks of central Montana. Proceedings, Montana Academy of Science. 43: 21-34. [15478]
  • 47. Ewing, J. 1924. Plant successions of the brush-prairie in north-western Minnesota. Journal of Ecology. 12: 238-266. [11122]
  • 77. Hoffman, George R.; Alexander, Robert R. 1987. Forest vegetation of the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota and Wyoming: a habitat type classification. Res. Pap. RM-276. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 48 p. [1181]
  • 90. Kunzler, L. M.; Harper, K. T.; Kunzler, D. B. 1981. Compositional similarity within the oakbrush type in central and northern Utah. The Great Basin Naturalist. 41(1): 147-153. [1390]
  • 99. Lichter, John. 1998. Primary succession and forest development on coastal Lake Michigan sand dunes. Ecological Monographs. 68(4): 487-510. [29313]
  • 100. Lorimer, Craig G.; Chapman, Jonathan W.; Lambert, William D. 1994. Tall understorey vegetation as a factor in the poor development of oak seedlings beneath mature stands. Journal of Ecology. 82: 227-237. [24108]
  • 114. Mueggler, W. F. 1985. Vegetation associations. In: DeByle, Norbert V.; Winokur, Robert P., eds. Aspen: ecology and management in the western United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-119. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 45-55. [11907]
  • 116. Mulligan, Gerald A.; Munro, Derek B. 1981. The biology of Canadian weeds, 51. Prunus virginiana L. and P. serotina Ehrh. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 61(4): 977-992. [12540]
  • 117. Olson, Jerry S. 1958. Rates of succession and soil changes on southern Lake Michigan sand dunes. Botanical Gazette. 119(3): 125-170. [10557]
  • 119. Pfister, Robert D.; Kovalchik, Bernard L.; Arno, Stephen F.; Presby, Richard C. 1977. Forest habitat types of Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-34. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 174 p. [1878]
  • 143. Steele, Robert; Geier-Hayes, Kathleen. 1995. Major Douglas-fir habitat types of central Idaho: a summary of succession and management. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-331. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 23 p. [29363]
  • 14. Bartos, D. L.; Mueggler, W. F. 1982. Early succession following clearcutting of aspen communities in northern Utah. Journal of Range Management. 35(6): 764-768. [3279]
  • 66. Hansen, Paul L.; Pfister, Robert D.; Boggs, Keith; [and others]. 1995. Classification and management of Montana's riparian and wetland sites. Miscellaneous Publication No. 54. Missoula, MT: The University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 646 p. [24768]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: natural, presence, resistance

Chokecherry reproduces sexually and vegetatively. In laboratory experiments involving excised rhizomes which were approximately 11 years of age, Schier [129] observed that chokecherry rhizomes sprouted at a faster rate and had higher sprouting percentages than Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii) rhizomes.

Seed crops are typically regular and viable [111], with seed-producing capacity higher in plants on open sites [166]. Seeds are surrounded by a stony endocarp that may offer some resistance to germination but is permeable to moisture. Chokecherry has seed dormancy; an after-ripening period in the presence of oxygen and moisture is necessary for adequate germination [60].

Rogers and Applegate [124] reported significantly (P less than 0.01) enhanced germination in chokecherry seeds ingested by black bears in Minnesota and attributed this to acid and mechanical scarification of seeds in the digestive tract.

Although large numbers of chokecherry seeds may be deposited beneath parent plants, long-distance dispersal also occurs via frugivorous birds and mammals [86,167,170,172]. Meyer and Witmer [107] studied the effect of gut-scarification on chokecherry seeds fed to captive frugivorous birds. Removal of fruit pulp was critical for germination, but they found no differences in germination success between seeds manually cleaned of pulp and bird-passed seeds lacking pulp. Seeds of chokecherry that were defecated and planted with feces, mimicking natural deposition, had reduced germination relative to manually cleaned seeds. Artificial seed treatments to enhance germination are discussed in the Value and Use section of this report.

Viable seed persists in the soil seedbank. In a closed-canopy forest in northern Idaho, chokecherry seeds were found in soil samples taken at depths of up to 4 inches (10 cm); overall seed viability equaled approximately 27% [86].
  • 60. Grisez, Ted J. 1974. Prunus L. cherry, peach, and plum. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agriculture Handbook No. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 658-673. [6975]
  • 111. Monsen, Stephen B.; McArthur, E. Durant. 1985. Factors influencing establishment of seeded broadleaf herbs and shrubs following fire. In: Sanders, Ken; Durham, Jack, eds. Rangeland fire effects: a symposium: Proceedings of the symposium; 1984 November 27-29; Boise, ID. Boise, ID: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho State Office: 112-124. [1682]
  • 124. Rogers, Lynn L.; Applegate, Rodger D. 1983. Dispersal of fruit seeds by black bears. Journal of Mammalogy. 64(2): 310-311. [5941]
  • 129. Schier, George A. 1983. Vegetative regeneration of Gambel oak and chokecherry from excised rhizomes. Forest Science. 29(30): 499-502. [2075]
  • 166. Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 347 p. [15400]
  • 86. Kramer, Neal B. 1984. Mature forest seed banks on three habitat types in central Idaho. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho. 106 p. Thesis. [1375]
  • 107. Meyer, Gretchen A.; Witmer, Mark C. 1998. Influence of seed processing by frugivorous birds on germination success of three North American shrubs. The American Midland Naturalist. 140(1): 129-139. [29354]
  • 167. Webb, Sara L.; Wilson, Mary F. 1985. Spatial heterogeneity in post-dispersal predation on Prunus and Uvularia seeds. Oecologia. 67: 150-153. [111]
  • 170. White, Douglas W.; Stiles, Edmund W. 1992. Bird dispersal of fruits of species introduced into eastern North America. Canadian Journal of Botany. 70: 1689-1696. [19713]
  • 172. Willson, Mary F.; Melampy, Michael N. 1983. The effect of bicolored fruit displays on fruit removal by avian frugivores. Oikos. 41(1): 27-31. [12542]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phanerophyte

Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the terms: shrub, tree

Tree-shrub

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Generally chokecherry plants leaf out in spring to early summer and flower 1 to 3 weeks later, with fruits maturing in late summer to fall [166]. Fruits dehisce soon after maturity [59]. Average date of phenological stages for chokecherry east and west of the Continental Divide in Montana from 1928 to 1937 are presented below [130]:                            East Divide      West Divide leaf buds burst            May 2            April 29 leaves full grown          June 11          May 17 flowers start              June 4           May 19  flowers end                June 17          June 11 fruits ripe                August 22        August 14 leaves start to color      August 31        September 15 leaves begin to fall       September 10     September 28 seed fall starts           September 12     September 19 leaves fallen/withered     September 30     October 14
  • 59. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 130. Schmidt, Wyman C.; Lotan, James E. 1980. Phenology of common forest flora of the northern Rockies--1928 to 1937. Res. Pap. INT-259. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 20 p. [2082]
  • 166. Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 347 p. [15400]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Prunus virginiana

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Prunus virginiana

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 14
Specimens with Barcodes: 25
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Prunus virginiana L.

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread throughout North America except for southeast, locally common (can be monotypic) in open woodlands, prairie hillsides, rocky bluffs, canyons, roadsides, streams, and springs. Intolerant of flooding.

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Threats

Comments: Threatened by land-use conversion, habitat fragmentation, and forest management practices (Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project 2002).

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Pests and potential problems

Chokecherry is susceptible to X-disease, black knot, stem decay, shothole, Valsa canker, and honey fungus Plowrightia stansburiana. Common insects pests are the prairie tent caterpillar, eastern tent caterpillar and aphids. In the northeastern United States, chokecherry is a primary host of the eastern tent caterpillar. Browsing by deer on young immature trees causes considerable damage in some areas.

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USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Management

Management considerations

Grazing: Chokecherry is moderately tolerant of browsing [66], but heavy grazing by livestock and wild ungulates has impacted populations in many areas, especially the northern Great Plains [64,65,81,98,179].



Chokecherry foliage can be poisonous to grazing livestock [78,106,116,153]. Research has identified the toxic compound in chokecherry as the cyanogenic glycoside prunasin [101]. One-half gram of prunasin can produce approximately 46 mg of hydrogen cyanide (HCN); daily doses of 50 mg HCN/1 kg body weight are considered dangerous. Hydrogen cyanide is liberated either in the
plant as a result of frost damage or in the animal during digestion.
Results of that study indicated that prunasin concentrations are highest (5%) in the new stems and newly initiated leaves of chokecherry.
Elevated levels (greater than 2.5%) are maintained in the leaves throughout
the summer, but prunasin content of new twigs gradually diminishes over
the season. The previous season's growth is generally not as toxic
(1.2 to 2.2%) [166].

Pest management concerns: Chokecherry can be controlled by herbicides or plowing [116]. In the northeastern United
States chokecherry is a primary host of the eastern tent caterpillar
[164].



Chokecherry is susceptible to attack by the fungus Plowrightia
stansburiana, which causes knotlike cankers to develop on stems. This
condition eventually kills infected stems [92]. Afflicted plants
usually have a shortened life span [166].

  • 64. Hansen, Paul L.; Hoffman, George R. 1988. The vegetation of the Grand River/Cedar River, Sioux, and Ashland Districts of the Custer National Forest: a habitat type classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-157. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 68 p. [771]
  • 65. Hansen, Paul L.; Hoffman, George R.; Bjugstad, Ardell J. 1984. The vegetation of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota: a habitat type classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-113. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 35 p. [1077]
  • 81. Kay, Charles E. 1995. Aboriginal overkill and native burning: implications for modern ecosystem management. Western Journal of Applied Forestry. 10(4): 121-126. [27099]
  • 92. Lanner, Ronald M. 1983. Trees of the Great Basin: A natural history. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press. 215 p. [1401]
  • 98. Lesica, Peter. 1989. The vegetation and condition of upland hardwood forests in eastern Montana. Proceedings, Montana Academy of Sciences. 49: 45-62. [30103]
  • 101. Majak, W.; Quinton, D. A.; Broersma, K. 1980. Cyanogenic glycoside levels in Saskatoon serviceberry. Journal of Range Management. 33(3): 197-199. [1510]
  • 106. Meinecke, E. P. 1929. Quaking aspen: A study in applied forest pathology. Tech. Bull. No. 155. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 34 p. [26669]
  • 116. Mulligan, Gerald A.; Munro, Derek B. 1981. The biology of Canadian weeds, 51. Prunus virginiana L. and P. serotina Ehrh. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 61(4): 977-992. [12540]
  • 153. Thomas, Heather Smith. 1994. Chokecherry poisoning. Rural Heritage. 19(4): 38. [29774]
  • 164. Waage, Jonathan K.; Bergelson, Joy M. 1985. Differential use of pin and black cherry by the eastern tent caterpillar Malacosoma americanum Fab. (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae). The American Midland Naturalist. 113(1): 45-55. [8121]
  • 166. Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 347 p. [15400]
  • 179. Zimmerman, G. T.; Neuenschwander, L. F. 1984. Livestock grazing influences on community structure, fire intensity, and fire frequency within the Douglas-fir/ninebark habitat type. Journal of Range Management. 37(2): 104-110. [10103]
  • 66. Hansen, Paul L.; Pfister, Robert D.; Boggs, Keith; [and others]. 1995. Classification and management of Montana's riparian and wetland sites. Miscellaneous Publication No. 54. Missoula, MT: The University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 646 p. [24768]
  • 78. James, L. F.; Keeler, R. F.; Johnson, A. E.; [and others]. 1980. Plants poisonous to livestock in the western states. Agriculture Information Bulletin 415. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Science and Education Administration. 90 p. [1243]

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Control

Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

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USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Planting materials can be obtained from most commercial hardwood nurseries and seed sources. Several cultivars have been released by government agencies and private nurseries for use in landscaping and/or fruit production. The two most commonly marketed cultivars are 'Schubert', and 'Canada Red'. A lot of literature states that these two cultivars are the same one with just different names. This is not the entire truth. 'Schubert' is one of the oldest cultivars. Its parent rootstock is Prunus virginiana melanocarpa selected from a native stand near Valley City, North Dakota. It was released by the Oscar Will Nursery which was located in Bismarck. 'Canada Red' was created by grafting 'Schubert' on Mayday rootstock to get rid of the suckering trait. Releases from Canada include, 'Garrington', 'Goertz' and 'Robert'.

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USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Seed production

Chokecherry can be propagated by seed, rhizome cuttings, suckers, crown division, semi-hardwood cuttings and grafting. Generally, seed crops are regular and viable. The flowers are more abundant and more fruit is produced on plants growing on open sites or in forest clearings. Natural dispersal of the seed occurs when it passes through the digestive tracts of mammals and birds. The seeds may be carried a long distance from the parent plant in this manner. If the rhizomatous roots are damaged due to a mechanical injury suckers will be produced. This is often how thickets are formed. A fire initially causes major damage to a stand of chokecherry. However, regrowth is enhanced for several years following a burn. It sprouts vigorously from surviving root crowns and suckers arise from the rhizomes.

Chokecherry has seed dormancy. About half of the seed which is not stratified germinates within a couple of months. Delayed germination may occur up to 4 months. An after-ripening period in the presence of oxygen and moisture is needed for a majority of seed to germinate. Good germination can only be expected after a cool, moist stratification regime lasting 90 to 160 days at 36 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Sow 25 seeds per foot of drill row. One- year-old bareroot stock should be planted on deep, well-drained soils in sunny locations.

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USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

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Environmental concerns

The leaves, bark, stem, and stone (seed pit) of chokecherry are all toxic. It is potentially poisonous to all classes of livestock, but cattle and sheep are the ones commonly affected. The meaty flesh of the fruit is not toxic.

Hydrocyanic acid (HCN) is often called Prussic acid. HCN does not occur freely as a plant compound. It is formed only after disruption of the plant cell, either by mechanical injury or a sudden freeze. Only then do the degradative enzymes (hydroxynitrile lyases) and glycoside come into contact and mix together. HCN acid occurs in greatest amounts in the leaves. Generally, the amount of HCN in the leaves lessens as the growing season progresses. By autumn chokecherry leaves have so little glycoside, a component of HCN, they are not normally considered hazardous. Drought stress may cause the leaves to concentrate the glycoside in heavier amounts than usual. Wilted leaves are more toxic per unit weight due to dehydration, which concentrates the components, which make up HCN. HCN is so toxic at low levels because it inhibits blood cells from absorbing oxygen. One symptom of HCN poisoning is the blood turns bright red when exposed to the air and it clots abnormally slow.

Cyanogenic glycosides (prunasin, produced in the leaves and twigs, and amygdalin, produced in the stone) are the building blocks for HCN. Of the two, prunasin is found in a much larger quantity. HCN is most commonly formed in the plant due to mechanical injury (such as browsing), a sudden change in temperature (an early and heavy frost) or in the animal during digestion. The glycosides can either be hydrolyzed by enzymes in the plants or by rumen microorganisms. The glycosides occur in vacuoles in plant tissue while the enzymes are found in the cytosol.

Ingestion of about 0.25 percent of an animal's body weight, or 50 milligrams/kilogram of body weight, is the Lethal Dose of fifty percent of animals (LD50). This means less than 4 ounces of fresh leaves can be toxic to a 100 pound animal.

Poisoning generally occurs when animals graze this amount or more in an hour or less. Formation of HCN must occur primarily within the short time between the mastication of the forage and its arrival in the stomach, for the acidic contents of the stomach slows down the reaction of the chemical process which creates the HCN. The toxic elements become even more active if the animal drinks water immediately after browsing. HCN works so quickly by the time poisoning symptoms are identified it is generally too late to treat. Injection of a combination of sodium thiosulfate and sodium nitrite in the veins or peritoneum is the recommended antidote. Oxidizing substances such as potassium permanganate or hydrogen peroxide given as a drench may help some. Any other medications promoting respiratory help and nerve stimulants may also contribute to recovery. For any treatment to be effective it must be given immediately upon symptoms of poisoning.

Removing livestock from the HCN source is the only practical way to prevent mass poisoning and numerous losses once it has been detected. Good livestock management includes keeping hungry livestock away from areas where chokecherry is abundant. Maintaining a good level of preferred forage in pastures will do a great deal in preventing HCN poisoning.

When a person eats a single apple seed or cherry pit, though not recommended, it is unlikely to cause discomfort or serious illness. However, there have been reported deaths, usually of children chewing on the stems and leaves, or swallowing the stones. Visible reactions to poisoning may include; anxiety; uneasiness; confusion; dizziness; vertigo; headache; nausea; vomiting; the lips turn blue; bloating; dilation of the eyes; muscular weakness; abnormal breathing, either very labored or very rapid; paralysis of the throat; irregular heart beat; convulsions; coma ensues and finally death. Clinically, death results from the general anoxic state created by the inhibition of cytochrome oxidase.

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USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Management of chokecherry will be dependent on whether it is looked upon as a desirable or undesirable plant. On range and pastures it is often considered a potential hazard to livestock. As a consequence either mechanical and/or herbicide treatments combined with good grassland management is needed to prevent animal loss. When it is used in windbreaks, as an ornamental plant or as a wildlife resource it is beneficial. Control of weedy vegetation, and treatment for potential diseases, is necessary if it is expected to grow for an extended period of years

Public Domain

USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Weediness

This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace more desirable vegetation if not properly managed. Please consult with your local NRCS Field Office, Cooperative Extension Service office, or state natural resource or agriculture department regarding its status and use. Weed information is also available from the PLANTS Web site.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Other uses and values

More info for the term: natural

Chokecherry plants are widely used as ornamentals. Chokecherry produces an abundance of attractive white flowers characterized by a strong, sweet, almondlike fragrance. This species is also valued for its fruit. Plantings increase habitat and natural food supplies for birds frequenting residential areas. Chokecherry is extensively planted for windbreaks in the prairie, plains, and western mountains [166]. Chokecherries are edible and, although somewhat astringent, are relatively sweet when fully ripe. Fruits are used to make wines, syrups, jellies, and jams. Indigenous peoples gathered chokecherries and used them to make pemmican and treat cold sores [68,84,147]. The Piutes made a medicinal tea from the leaves and twigs to treat colds and rheumatism [113].
  • 68. Harrington, H. D. 1976. Edible native plants of the Rocky Mountains. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. 392 p. [12903]
  • 84. Kindscher, Kelly. 1988. The ethnobotanical use of native prairie plants as food. In: Davis, Arnold; Stanford, Geoffrey, eds. The prairie: roots of our culture; foundation of our economy: Proceedings, 10th North American prairie conference; 1986 June 22-26; Denton, TX. Dallas, TX: Native Prairie Association of Texas: 02.04: 1-3. [25585]
  • 113. Mozingo, Hugh N. 1987. Shrubs of the Great Basin: A natural history. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press. 342 p. [1702]
  • 147. Stubbendieck, James; Hatch, Stephan L.; Butterfield, Charles H. 1992. North American range plants. 4th ed. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. 493 p. [25162]
  • 166. Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 347 p. [15400]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

More info for the terms: competition, rhizome

Chokecherry has been selected as a revegetation species for wildlife habitat [110,127,166], shelterbelts [131], mine spoils [109], and soil stabilization [102,104,131]. Chokecherry exhibited salt tolerance in a greenhouse study [155].

Chokecherry can be propagated from seed or rhizome cuttings [60,91,102,108,129,134,166]. About half of unstratified seed germinates within 60 days of collection; delayed germination can occur up to 120 days of sowing [166]. More consistent germination is achieved following cool, moist stratification lasting from 120 to 160 days at 36 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (2.2-5 oC) [60,108,109]. In a heat-treatment field study, using thermocouples inserted into seedcoats, chokecherry germination was doubled to quadrupled by temperatures ranging from 180 to 280 degrees Fahrenheit (82-138 oC)[127].

Nursery-grown seedlings of chokecherry establish satisfactorily if planted free of competition on sites with at least 15 inches (38 cm) of annual precipitation. Young plants are not tolerant of competing vegetation for 2 to 3 years following planting [110].

  • 60. Grisez, Ted J. 1974. Prunus L. cherry, peach, and plum. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agriculture Handbook No. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 658-673. [6975]
  • 91. Landis, Thomas D.; Simonich, Edward J. 1984. Producing native plants as container seedlings. In: Murphy, Patrick M., compiler. The challenge of producing native plants for the Intermountain area: proceedings: Intermountain Nurseryman's Association 1983 conference; 1983 August 8-11; Las Vegas, NV. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-168. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 16-25. [6849]
  • 102. Majerus, Mark E. 1991. Yellowstone National Park-Bridger Plant Marterials Center native plant program. In: Rangeland Technology Equipment Council, 1991 annual report. 9222-2808-MTDC. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Technology and Development Program: 17-22. [17082]
  • 104. McArthur, E. Durant; Giunta, Bruce C.; Plummer, A. Perry. 1977. Shrubs for restoration of depleted range and disturbed areas. Utah Science. 35: 28-33. [25035]
  • 108. Mirov, N. T.; Kraebel, C. J. 1937. Collecting and propagating the seeds of California wild plants. Res. Note No. 18. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, California Forest and Range Experiment Station. 27 p. [9787]
  • 109. Monsen, Stephen B. 1984. Use of shrubs on mine spoils. In: Murphy, P. M., compiler. The challenge of producing native plants for the Intermountain area: Proceedings: Intermountain Nurseryman's Association 1983 conference; 1983 August 8-11; Las Vegas, NV. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-168. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 26-31. [6847]
  • 110. Monsen, Stephen B.; Davis, James N. 1985. Progress in the improvement of selected western North American rosaceous shrubs. In: Carlson, Jack R.; McArthur, E. Durant, chairmen. Range plant improvement in western North America: Proceedings of a symposium at the annual meeting of the Society for Range Management; 1985 February 14; Salt Lake City, UT. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management: 93-101. [1681]
  • 127. Sampson, Arthur W. 1944. Plant succession on burned chaparral lands in northern California. Bull. 65. Berkeley, CA: University of California, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 144 p. [2050]
  • 129. Schier, George A. 1983. Vegetative regeneration of Gambel oak and chokecherry from excised rhizomes. Forest Science. 29(30): 499-502. [2075]
  • 131. Schroeder, W. R. 1988. Planting and establishment of shelterbelts in humid severe-winter regions. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 22/23: 441-463. [8774]
  • 134. Shaw, N. 1984. Producing bareroot seedlings of native shrubs. In: Murphy, P. M., compiler. The challenge of producing native plants for the Intermountain area: Proceedings, Intermountain Nurseryman's Association conference; 1983 August 8-11; Las Vegas, NV. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-168. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 6-15. [6850]
  • 155. Tinus, Richard W. 1984. Salt tolerance of 10 deciduous shrub and tree species. In: Murphy, Patrick M., compiler. The challenge of producing native plants for the Intermountain area: Proceedings: Intermountain Nurseryman's Association 1983 conference; 1983 August 8-11; Las Vegas, NV. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-168. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 44-49. [6848]
  • 166. Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 347 p. [15400]

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Cover Value

More info for the terms: cover, shrub

Chokecherry provides important cover and habitat for many bird species [115,116,117,118,119,120,121,122,123,124], small mammals [4,44,55,139,146,165], large mammals, and livestock [16,24,45,65,66,159]. Chokecherry is an excellent shrub for providing thermal cover and erosion control in fisheries [66]. The degree to which chokecherry provides cover for wildlife species is as follows [42]:                      CO     MT     ND     UT     WY Pronghorn            ----   Fair   Good   Poor   Fair  Elk                  Good   Fair   ----   Good   Good Mule deer            Good   Good   Good   Good   Good White-tailed deer    Good   Good   Good   ----   Good Small mammals        Good   Good   ----   Good   Good Small nongame birds  Good   Good   Good   Good   Good Upland game birds    Good   Good   Good   Good   Good Waterfowl            ----   ----   ----   Poor   Poor
  • 65. Hansen, Paul L.; Hoffman, George R.; Bjugstad, Ardell J. 1984. The vegetation of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota: a habitat type classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-113. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 35 p. [1077]
  • 42. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 4. Adams, Lowell. 1959. An analysis of a population of snowshoe hares in northwestern Montana. Ecological Monographs. 29(2): 148-153. [25154]
  • 16. Bell, Jack H.; Lauer, Jerry L.; Peek, James M. 1992. Habitat use patterns of white-tailed deer, Umatilla River, Oregon. Northwest Science. 66(3): 160-171. [19276]
  • 24. Brockmann, Stephen P.; Pletscher, Daniel H. 1993. Winter segregation by the sexes of white-tailed deer. Western Journal of Applied Forestry. 8(1): 28-33. [20222]
  • 44. Dronkert-Egnew, Ana E. 1991. River otter population status and habitat use in northwestern Montana. Missoula, MT: Univeristy of Montana. 112 p. Thesis. [20339]
  • 45. Dusek, Gary L. 1975. Range relations of mule deer and cattle in prairie habitat. Journal of Wildlife Management. 39(3): 605-616. [5938]
  • 55. Gillis, Elizabeth A.; Nams, Vilis O. 1998. How red-backed voles find habitat patches. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 76: 791-794. [30350]
  • 115. Mueggler, Walter F.; Campbell, Robert B., Jr. 1982. Aspen community types on the Caribou and Targhee National Forests in southeastern Idaho. Res. Pap. INT-294. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 32 p. [1713]
  • 116. Mulligan, Gerald A.; Munro, Derek B. 1981. The biology of Canadian weeds, 51. Prunus virginiana L. and P. serotina Ehrh. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 61(4): 977-992. [12540]
  • 117. Olson, Jerry S. 1958. Rates of succession and soil changes on southern Lake Michigan sand dunes. Botanical Gazette. 119(3): 125-170. [10557]
  • 118. Peek, J. M. 1974. A review of moose food habits studies in North America. Le Naturaliste Canadien. 101: 195-215. [7420]
  • 119. Pfister, Robert D.; Kovalchik, Bernard L.; Arno, Stephen F.; Presby, Richard C. 1977. Forest habitat types of Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-34. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 174 p. [1878]
  • 120. Pierce, John D. 1984. Shiras moose forage selection in relation to browse availability in north-central Idaho. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 62(12): 2404-2409. [12493]
  • 121. Plummer, A. Perry; Christensen, Donald R.; Monsen, Stephen B. 1968. Restoring big-game range in Utah. Publ. No. 68-3. Ephraim, UT: Utah Division of Fish and Game. 183 p. [4554]
  • 122. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843]
  • 124. Rogers, Lynn L.; Applegate, Rodger D. 1983. Dispersal of fruit seeds by black bears. Journal of Mammalogy. 64(2): 310-311. [5941]
  • 139. Stahlecker, Dale W.; Kennedy, Patricia L.; Cully, Anne C.; Kuykendall, Charles B. 1989. Breeding bird assemblages in the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River Recreation Area, New Mexico. The Southwestern Naturalist. 34(4): 487-498. [10137]
  • 146. Stockrahm, Donna M. Bruns; Olson, Theresa Ebbenga; Harper, Elizabeth K. 1993. Plant species in black-tailed prairie dog towns in Billings County, North Dakota. Prairie Naturalist. 25(2): 173-183. [23167]
  • 159. Unsworth, James W.; Beecham, John J.; Irby, Lynn R. 1989. Female black bear habitat use in west-central Idaho. Journal of Wildlife Management. 53(3): 668-673. [8407]
  • 165. Waller, Amy Johnston. 1992. Seasonal habitat use of river otters in northwestern Montana. Missoula, MT: University of Montana. 75 p. Thesis. [20659]
  • 66. Hansen, Paul L.; Pfister, Robert D.; Boggs, Keith; [and others]. 1995. Classification and management of Montana's riparian and wetland sites. Miscellaneous Publication No. 54. Missoula, MT: The University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 646 p. [24768]
  • 123. Robbins, C. T.; Hanley, T. A.; Hagerman, A. E.; [and others]. 1987. Role of tannins in defending plants against ruminants: reduction in protein availability. Ecology. 68(1): 98-107. [5974]

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Nutritional Value

The nutritional value of chokecherry is relatively high in comparison
with that of other western browse species [19,88,168]. It has 38.8% dry matter digestibility and is 8.7% crude protein [35]. Crude protein
levels do not appreciably decrease as winter progresses [39]. Dittberner
and Olson [42] rate chokecherry good in energy value and poor in protein
value.

Seasonal trends in the nutritive content of chokecherry leaves and stems in the Black
Hills of South Dakota are presented below. Units are in percent, on an oven-dry basis [39].                 Spring          Summer         Fall       
                leaves/stems    leaves/stems   leaves/stems
crude protein   21.9/17.4       15.2/9.5        6.6/8.8     
cellulose       12.3/19.7       12.6/22.8      14.7/24.2     
ash              5.9/5.4         6.2/4.3        6.1/3.0    
calcium         1.12/0.9         1.8/1.5       2.33/1.66     
phosphorus      0.51/0.41       0.39/0.21      0.37/0.21     
  • 42. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 19. Bissell, Harold D.; Strong, Helen. 1955. The crude protein variations in the browse diet of California deer. California Fish and Game. 41(2): 145-155. [10524]
  • 35. Davis, James N.; Welch, Bruce L. 1985. Winter preference, nutritive value, and other range use characteristics of Kochia prostrata (L.) Schrad. The Great Basin Naturalist. 45(4): 778-783. [759]
  • 39. Dietz, Donald R. 1972. Nutritive value of shrubs. In: McKell, Cyrus M.; Blaisdell, James P.; Goodin, Joe R., tech. eds. Wildland shrubs--their biology and utilization: An international symposium; Proceedings; 1971 July; Logan, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-1. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 289-302. [801]
  • 88. Kufeld, Roland C. 1973. Foods eaten by the Rocky Mountain elk. Journal of Range Management. 26(2): 106-113. [1385]
  • 168. Welch, Bruce L. 1981. Nutritive value of big sagebrush and other shrubs. In: Proceedings--shrub establishment on disturbed arid and semi-arid lands symposium; 1980 December 2-3; Laramie, WY. Laramie, WY: Wyoming Game and Fish Department: 9-22. [2479]

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Palatability

Chokecherry is moderately palatable to all classes of livestock,
although it is more heavily browsed by domestic sheep than by cattle [36,140].
It is a preferred mule deer browse on many winter ranges throughout the Intermountain West and Northern Great Plains [39,42].

The palatability of chokecherry to livestock and wildlife has been rated as follows [42]:                     CO     MT     ND     UT     WY
Cattle               Fair   Fair   Fair   Fair   Fair
Domestic sheep       Good   Good   Good   Fair   Good
Horses               Poor   Poor   ----   Poor   Poor
Pronghorn            ----   ----   Good   Poor   Poor
Elk                  Poor   Fair   ----   Good   Fair
Mule deer            Fair   Fair   Good   Good   Good
Small mammals        Good   Good   ----   Good   Good
Small nongame birds  Good   Good   ----   Good   Good
Upland game birds    Fair   Good   Good   Good   Good
Waterfowl            ----   ----   ----   Poor   Poor
  • 42. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 36. Dayton, William A. 1931. Important western browse plants. Misc. Publ. 101. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 214 p. [768]
  • 39. Dietz, Donald R. 1972. Nutritive value of shrubs. In: McKell, Cyrus M.; Blaisdell, James P.; Goodin, Joe R., tech. eds. Wildland shrubs--their biology and utilization: An international symposium; Proceedings; 1971 July; Logan, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-1. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 289-302. [801]
  • 140. Stanton, Frank. 1974. Wildlife guidelines for range fire rehabilitation. Tech. Note 6712. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 90 p. [2221]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Chokecherry is widely regarded as an important wildlife food plant and provides habitat, watershed protection, and species diversity [36,92,121,140,147]. Fruits, leaves, and twigs are utilized. Large mammals including bears [34,83,124], moose [69,118,120,144], coyotes [38], bighorn sheep [154,160], pronghorn [41], elk [32,49,74,88,94], and deer use chokecherry as browse [7,8,26,132,145,146,147,148,149,150,156]. Chokecherry is also a food source for small mammals [37,38,62,70]. The fruits are important food for many birds [15,20,54,103]. 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 [66,116,166].
  • 145. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 10 p. [20090]
  • 7. Arno, Stephen F. 1985. Ecological effects and management implications of Indian fires. In: Lotan, James E.; Kilgore, Bruce M.; Fisher, William C.; Mutch, Robert W., technical coordinators. Proceedings--Symposium and workshop on wilderness fire; 1983 November 15-18; Missoula, MT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-182. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 81-86. [7357]
  • 8. Arno, Stephen F.; Simmerman, Dennis G.; Keane, Robert E. 1985. Forest succession on four habitat types in western Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-177. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 74 p. [349]
  • 15. Beal, F. E. L. 1915. Food of the robins and bluebirds of the United States. Bulletin No. 171. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 31 p. [24990]
  • 20. Bjugstad, Ardell J. 1986. Wooded draws of the northern high plains: characteristics, value and restoration (North and South Dakota). Restoration & Management Notes. 4(2): 74-75. [4226]
  • 26. Brown, David T.; Doucet, G. Jean. 1991. Temporal changes in winter diet selection by white-tailed deer in a northern deer yard. Journal of Wildlife Management. 55(3): 361-376. [15406]
  • 34. Davis, Dan; Butterfield, Bart. 1991. The Bitterroot grizzly bear evaluation area: A report to the Bitterroot Technical Review Team. Unpublished report on file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; 56 p. [30041]
  • 36. Dayton, William A. 1931. Important western browse plants. Misc. Publ. 101. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 214 p. [768]
  • 37. de Vos, Antoon. 1964. Food utilization of snowshoe hares on Mantioulin Island, Ontario. Journal of Forestry. 62: 238-244. [25071]
  • 38. Dibello, Fred J.; Arthur, Stephen M.; Krohn, William B. 1990. Food habits of sympatric coyotes, Canis latrans, red foxes, Vulpes vulpes, and bobcats, Lynx rufus, in Maine. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 104: 403-408. [14121]
  • 41. Dirschl, Herman J. 1963. Food habits of the pronghorn in Saskatchewan. Journal of Wildlife Management. 27(1): 81-93. [5939]
  • 49. Gaffney, William S. 1941. The effects of winter elk browsing, south fork of the Flathead River, Montana. Journal of Wildlife Management. 5(4): 427-453. [5028]
  • 54. Giesen, Kenneth M.; Connelly, John W. 1993. Guidelines for management of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse habitat. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 21: 325-333. [23690]
  • 62. Hamilton, W. J., Jr. 1951. Warm weather foods of the raccoon in New York State. Journal of Mammalogy. 32(3): 341-344. [25273]
  • 69. Harry, G. Bryan. 1957. Winter food habits of moose in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Journal of Wildlife Management. 21(1): 53-57. [8429]
  • 70. Hendricks, Paul; Allard, Herbert F. 1988. Winter food habits of prairie porcupines in Montana. Prairie Naturalist. 20(1): 1-6. [9334]
  • 74. Hobbs, N. Thompson; Baker, Dan L.; Ellis, James E.; Swift, David M. 1981. Composition and quality of elk winter diets in Colorado. Journal of Wildlife Management. 45(1): 156-171. [7421]
  • 83. Kendall, Katherine C. 1986. Grizzly and black bear feeding ecology in Glacier National Park, Montana. Progress Report. West Glacier, Montana: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Glacier National Park Biosphere Preserve, Science Center. 42 p. [19361]
  • 88. Kufeld, Roland C. 1973. Foods eaten by the Rocky Mountain elk. Journal of Range Management. 26(2): 106-113. [1385]
  • 92. Lanner, Ronald M. 1983. Trees of the Great Basin: A natural history. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press. 215 p. [1401]
  • 103. Marks, Jeffrey S.; Marks, Victoria Saab. 1988. Winter habitat use by Columbian sharp-tailed grouse in western Idaho. Journal of Wildlife Management. 52(4): 743-746. [6142]
  • 116. Mulligan, Gerald A.; Munro, Derek B. 1981. The biology of Canadian weeds, 51. Prunus virginiana L. and P. serotina Ehrh. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 61(4): 977-992. [12540]
  • 118. Peek, J. M. 1974. A review of moose food habits studies in North America. Le Naturaliste Canadien. 101: 195-215. [7420]
  • 120. Pierce, John D. 1984. Shiras moose forage selection in relation to browse availability in north-central Idaho. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 62(12): 2404-2409. [12493]
  • 121. Plummer, A. Perry; Christensen, Donald R.; Monsen, Stephen B. 1968. Restoring big-game range in Utah. Publ. No. 68-3. Ephraim, UT: Utah Division of Fish and Game. 183 p. [4554]
  • 124. Rogers, Lynn L.; Applegate, Rodger D. 1983. Dispersal of fruit seeds by black bears. Journal of Mammalogy. 64(2): 310-311. [5941]
  • 132. Schultz, Brad W. 1987. Ecology of curlleaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) in western and central Nevada: population structure and dynamics. Reno, NV: University of Nevada. 111 p. Thesis. [7064]
  • 140. Stanton, Frank. 1974. Wildlife guidelines for range fire rehabilitation. Tech. Note 6712. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 90 p. [2221]
  • 144. Stevens, David R. 1970. Winter ecology of moose in the Gallatin Mountains, Montana. Journal of Wildlife Management. 34(1): 37-46. [7932]
  • 146. Stockrahm, Donna M. Bruns; Olson, Theresa Ebbenga; Harper, Elizabeth K. 1993. Plant species in black-tailed prairie dog towns in Billings County, North Dakota. Prairie Naturalist. 25(2): 173-183. [23167]
  • 147. Stubbendieck, James; Hatch, Stephan L.; Butterfield, Charles H. 1992. North American range plants. 4th ed. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. 493 p. [25162]
  • 148. Stubblefield, Cynthia H. 1993. Food habits of black bear in the San Gabriel Mountains of southern California. The Southwestern Naturalist. 38(3): 290-293. [22146]
  • 149. Szaro, Robert C. 1981. Bird population responses to converting chaparral to grassland and riparian habitats. The Southwestern Naturalist. 26(3): 251-256. [13675]
  • 150. Tester, John R. 1989. Effects of fire frequency on oak savanna in east-central Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 116(2): 134-144. [9281]
  • 154. Tilton, Mark E.; Willard, E. Earl. 1981. Winter food habits of mountain sheep in Montana. Journal of Wildlife Management. 45(2): 548-553. [13580]
  • 156. Tisdale, E. W.; Hironaka, M. 1981. The sagebrush-grass region: a review of the ecological literature. Bull. 33. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho, Forest, Wildlife and Range Experiment Station. 31 p. [2344]
  • 166. Wasser, Clinton H. 1982. Ecology and culture of selected species useful in revegetating disturbed lands in the West. FWS/OBS-82/56. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 347 p. [15400]
  • 32. Canon, S. K.; Urness, P. J.; DeByle, N. V. 1987. Habitat selection, Foraging behavior, and dietary nutrition of elk in burned aspen forest. Journal of Range Management. 40(5): 443-438. [3453]
  • 66. Hansen, Paul L.; Pfister, Robert D.; Boggs, Keith; [and others]. 1995. Classification and management of Montana's riparian and wetland sites. Miscellaneous Publication No. 54. Missoula, MT: The University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 646 p. [24768]
  • 94. Leckenby, Donavin A.; Sheehy, Dennis P.; Nellis, Carl H.; [and others]. 1982. Wildlife habitats in managed rangelands--the Great Basin of southeastern Oregon: mule deer. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-139. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 40 p. [1432]
  • 160. Van Dyke, Walter A.; Sands, Alan; Yoakum, Jim; [and others]. 1983. Wildlife habitats in managed rangelands--the Great Basin of southeastern Oregon: bighorn sheep. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-159. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest and Range Experiment Station. 37 p. [2417]

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Wood Products Value

Chokecherry wood is heavy, hard and close-grained, but rarely develops a trunk large enough to be commercially useful [116].
  • 116. Mulligan, Gerald A.; Munro, Derek B. 1981. The biology of Canadian weeds, 51. Prunus virginiana L. and P. serotina Ehrh. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 61(4): 977-992. [12540]

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Uses

Many people do not realize cherry and some other very important commercial fruit trees (apple, peach, plum, apricot, nectarines, and almonds) are in the rose family. Anthropologists indicate cherries have been harvested in Eurasia from 4,000 to 5,000 B.C. In 1629, chokecherry was imported to England where it has been cultivated as an ornamental. It was first cultivated in North America as an orchard crop in 1724.

The seeds are toxic due to production of hydrocyanic acid in the leaves, stems and seeds. The almond nuts are treated to deactivate the poisonous glycosides before they are put on the market. Cases of illness and deaths have been traced back to eating the seeds of these trees.

Conservation: Chokecherry is used extensively in shelterbelts, windbreaks, wildlife habitat and mass plantings for erosion control. Chokecherry does well in riparian area planting. It provides thermal cover over the water and works well in stabilizing streambanks. It has been used on disturbed sites such as mined land reclamation, highway right-of-ways and construction sites. It is a good erosion control plant because it can form thickets and spread by rhizomes.

Wildlife: Chokecherry is important to many wildlife animals. Birds, rabbits, hares, rodents and bears all seek out and eat its fruit. It provides food, cover and nesting habitat for a variety of birds. Birds will also take advantage of its growth form for cover and nesting habitat. It is used extensively by deer as a browse source in the winter. The early spring flowers provide an important source of nectar for butterflies, honeybees and ants.

Food: The common name, chokecherry, came from the bitter and astringent taste of the fruit. The fruit was a staple for numerous Indian tribes across the North American continent, especially to tribes who lived on the plains and prairies. Chokecherries were routinely cooked before they were eaten or dried thoroughly. Both methods served to break down any formation of prussic acid contained in the stone pits. Drying chokecherries improves their taste by sweetening them, or at the very least, getting rid of the naturally occurring bitter taste. Chokecherries were consumed in three ways by Indians. The fruit and/or juice were eaten. Whole cherries, including pulp, skin and stone, were pulverized into a pulp, shaped into balls and dried in the sun. Fruit balls could be stored for future use. Either boiling or drying the fruit will neutralize the naturally occurring hydrocyanic acid. The most important use was as part of the recipe for pemmican, or mince-meat. Pemmican was made by getting a slice of dried meat (bison was preferred over elk, deer or antelope) and pounding it with a stone until it had a fine texture. Bone marrow and animal lard were then heated and mixed with the meat. Crushed chokecherries were then added. Pemmican would be cached as a winter food. Some form of pemmican was a mainstay for all plains tribes. Chokecherry butter was made by cooking the mature fruit, straining out the seed and skins, mixing this poultice with an equal quantity of wild plums or crabapples and adding sugar. The bark was brewed for a tea drink. Many tribes would add the fruits to soups and stews as flavoring and as a thickening agent. A green branch was speared through a meat slab while it was cooking to add spice to the taste.

Likewise, pioneers and settlers came to realize its food value. Mature fruits are still collected today and used to make jellies, jams, pie-fillings, syrups, sauces and wines.

Like many plants and animals which were vital to their survival some tribes used parts of the chokecherry plant in their rituals. A green dye was derived from the leaves, inner bark and immature fruit. A purplish-red dye was derived from the ripe fruit. The Cheyenne used the limbs to make arrow shafts and bows. The Crows used it for tipi stakes and pins. Mountain men washed their steel traps in water boiled with the bark to remove the scent. It is speculated many tribes planted seeds in places they frequented to ensure a supply of chokecherries was always available.

Chokecherry is being promoted for planting as a minor crop in the prairie provinces of Canada for juice production. Estimated fruit production potential is 15,000 pounds per acre from mature plants. There is a significant research effort in Canada for developing fruit producing cultivars.

Landscaping: In some parts of the U.S., chokecherry is a popular ornamental. Its quick growth, mature size, attractive white flowers in the spring and strong, sweet and almond-like aroma fragrance make it a good yard tree in urban neighborhoods. Cultivars are planted for ornamentals rather than the native species. All native chokecherry varieties have a great tendency to sucker, which can create problems in lawn care. Most cultivated varieties do not have this suckering trait while producing more attractive flowers and/or larger fruit. The fruit also attracts a diverse population of birds for a number of weeks. Chokecherries can be a component in a screen or noise barrier planting.

Ethnobotany: Chokecherry covered a large geographic range in North America, so a majority of tribes used it to treat a variety of health problems. It was valued especially for its astringent properties and beneficial effect upon the respiratory system.

The Arika women would drink the berry juice to stop post-partum hemorrhage.

The Blackfeet drank berry juice for diarrhea and sore throats. An infusion of the cambium layer mixed with Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier almifolia) was taken as a general purge treatment and to lactating mothers so they could pass on the medicinal qualities to the nursing baby. They also used it in an enema solution for their children. Willow (Salix spp.) tea was used to counteract the laxative effect of chokecherry.

The Cherokees used chokecherry in the following ways: mixed chokecherry with hazel alder (Alnus serrulata), downy rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera pubescens), Canadian wildginger (Asarum canadense) and yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima) to make a blood tonic. An infusion made from boiled bark was given for coughs, laryngitis, chills, ague, fevers and to loosen phlegm. Warm chokecherry tea was given to women when labor pains began. The root bark is a good astringent and was mixed with water and used as a rinse for open sores and old skin ulcers. The tree bark of spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) was added to corn whiskey and used to treat for measles. The fruit was boiled and eaten to treat for bloody bowels. The branches and leaves were one of six ingredients burned in sweat lodges to treat for indigestion and jaundice.

The Cheyenne would gather the immature fruit, dry it in the sun, pulverize it and use it as a treatment for diarrhea.

The Paiutes made a medicinal tea from the leaves and twigs to treat colds and rheumatism.

The Sioux chewed the dried roots and then placed this poultice in open wounds to stop the bleeding. The Sioux, Crows, Gros Ventres and others made a bark tea to cure stomach aches, diarrhea and dysentery. The Crows also used the bark to cleanse sores and burns.

In the 19th century medical doctors used many concoctions of chokecherry leaves and bark to treat a number of ailments. Chokecherry bark was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1970. It is still listed as a pharmaceutical aid, a flavor agent for liquid medicines. Among the health complaints treated were debility, hectic fever, irritative dyspepsia, irritability of the nervous system, fever, pleurisy, whooping cough, tuberculosis, pneumonia, sore throats and gastrointestinal problems. It was recommended as a rinse on burns, open sores, cankers and skin ulcers. Pharmaceutical books at that time cautioned against boiling any mixture using chokecherry leaves or bark because it would drive off the medicinal properties. The bark was used as a flavoring agent in many cough syrups. In 1834, Dr. Proctor first identified the bark as containing prussic acid.

In their journals, Lewis and Clark recorded that while camped on the upper Missouri River Captain Lewis became will with abdominal cramps and fever. He made a tea from chokecherry twigs and was well the next day.

Modern medicinal research shows in small dosages hydrocyanic acid can stimulate respiration, improve digestion and gives a false sense of well-being. Some cancer research involving hydrocyanic acid is being conducted.

Margaret Williams, Nevada Native Plant Society, @ PLANTS

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USDA NRCS Pullman, Washington and Manhattan, Kansas Plant Materials Centers and Kansas State University Forestry Division

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Wikipedia

Prunus virginiana

Not to be confused with Aronia, called chokeberries

Prunus virginiana, commonly called bitter-berry,[3] chokecherry,[3] Virginia bird cherry[3] and western chokecherry[3] (also black chokecherry for P. virginiana var. demissa[3]), is a species of bird cherry (Prunus subgenus Padus) native to North America; the natural historic range of P. virginiana includes most of the continent, except for the far north and far south.

Growth[edit]

Chokecherry is a suckering shrub or small tree growing to 16 feet tall. The leaves are oval, 1.25–4 in. long, with a coarsely serrated margin. The flowers are produced in racemes of 15-30 in late spring (well after leaf emergence). The fruit are about .4 inch diameter, range in color from bright red to black, with a very astringent taste, being both somewhat sour and somewhat bitter. The very ripe berries are dark in color and less astringent and more sweet than the red berries.

Etymology[edit]

The chokeberries, genus Aronia, are sometimes confused with chokecherries due to their name, but chokecherries are in the Rosaceae family, Prunus genus while chokeberries are in the Rosaceae family, Photinia genus.[citation needed]

Characteristics[edit]

Chokecherries are very high in antioxidant pigment compounds, such as anthocyanins. They share this property with chokeberries, further contributing to confusion.

Varieties[edit]

Prunus virginiana is sometimes divided into two varieties, P. virginiana var. virginiana (the eastern chokecherry), and P. virginiana var. demissa (the western chokecherry).[4]

Chokecherry - habit

The wild chokecherry is often considered a pest, as it is a host for the tent caterpillar, a threat to other fruit plants. However, there are more appreciated cultivars of the chokecherry, such as 'Goertz', which has a nonastringent, and therefore palatable, fruit. Research at the University of Saskatchewan seeks to find and create new cultivars to increase production and processing.[5]

Leaf of Saskatchewan plant

The chokecherry is closely related to the black cherry (Prunus serotina) of eastern North America; it is most readily distinguished from that by its smaller size (black cherry trees can reach 100 feet tall), smaller leaves, and sometimes red ripe fruit. The chokecherry leaf has a finely serrated margin and is dark green above with a paler underside, while the black cherry leaf has numerous blunt edges along its margin and is dark green and smooth.[6][7]

The name chokecherry has also been used (as Amur chokecherry) for the related Manchurian cherry or Amur cherry (Prunus maackii).

Consumption[edit]

For many Native American tribes of the Northern Rockies, Northern Plains, and boreal forest region of Canada and the United States, chokecherries were the most important fruit in their diets.[8] The bark of chokecherry root was once made into an asperous-textured concoction used to ward off or treat colds, fever and stomach maladies by native Americans[9] The inner bark of the chokecherry, as well as red osier dogwood, or alder, was also used by natives in their smoking mixtures, known as kinnikinnick, to improve the taste of the bearberry leaf.[10] The chokecherry fruit can be used to make a jam, jelly, or syrup, but the bitter nature of the fruit requires sugar to sweeten the preserves.

Chokecherry is toxic to horses, and moose, cattle, goats, deer, and other animals with segmented stomachs (rumens), especially after the leaves have wilted (such as after a frost or after branches have been broken) because wilting releases cyanide and makes the plant sweet. About 10–20 lbs of foliage can be fatal. Symptoms of a horse that has been poisoned include heavy breathing, agitation, and weakness. The leaves of the chokecherry serve as food for caterpillars of various Lepidoptera. See List of Lepidoptera which feed on Prunus.

In 2007, Governor John Hoeven signed a bill naming the chokecherry the official fruit of the state of North Dakota, in part because its remains have been found at more archeological sites in the Dakotas than anywhere else.[11]

Chokecherry is also used to craft wine in the western United States mainly in the Dakotas and Utah as well as in Manitoba, Canada.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rehder, A. 1940, reprinted 1977. Manual of cultivated trees and shrubs hardy in North America exclusive of the subtropical and warmer temperate regions. Macmillan publishing Co., Inc, New York.
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e GRIN (May 17, 2012). "Prunus virginiana information from NPGS/GRIN". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  4. ^ Farrar, J.L. 1995. Trees in Canada. Canadian Forest Service and Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited, Markham.
  5. ^ http://www.agr.gov.sk.ca/afif/Projects/19960373.pdf
  6. ^ Edible Wild Plants A North American Field Guide, Thomas S. Elias, Peter A. Dykeman, Sterling Publishing Company Inc., New York, NY, 1990. isbn:0-8069-7488-5
  7. ^ http://www.cnr.vt.edu/dendro/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=238
  8. ^ http://www.wildfoods.info/wildfoods/chokecherry.html
  9. ^ pg. 81, Trees of Michigan and the Upper Great Lakes 6th edition, Norman F. Smith, Thunder Bay Press, 2002
  10. ^ Staff (2009) "Bearberry" Discovering Lewis and Clark The Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation
  11. ^ Kindscher, K. 1987. Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie: An Ethnobotanical Guide

Sources[edit]

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Source: Wikipedia

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

The fully documented scientific name of chokecherry is Prunus virginiana
L. (Rosaceae) [58,72,73,80]. Recognized varieties are:

Prunus virginiana var. demissa (Nutt.) Torr. - western chokecherry [73,80]

Prunus virginiana var. melanocarpa (A. Nels.) Sarg. - black chokecherry [80]

Prunus virginiana var. virginiana L. - common chokecherry [73,80]
  • 72. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 73. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 58. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329]
  • 80. Kartesz, John T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume I--checklist. 2nd ed. Portland, OR: Timber Press. 622 p. [23877]

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Common Names

chokecherry

western chokecherry

common chokecherry

black chokecherry

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