A native plant to the Midwest and Eastern North America, the aronia berry, aka chokeberry, is becoming increasingly popular as a natural food source and is classified as a medicinal plant.
Often referred to as aronia, it grows up to 8 feet tall and almost 5 feet wide. The flowers are white and are produced in a corymbs 5-6 cm of 15-20 berries. The extended blooming period starts in mid-May (in Iowa). A late freeze can damage the flowers and percentage of fruit set.
The period of fruit forming varies, but generally is 85-95 days. The berries are black ovals, with a light way color and 8-12 mm in diameter, weighing 1 to 1.5 g. There are several ways to propagate the shrub with cuttings the most common. Once planted the shrub will bear fruit in the third and sometime the second year. With a productive period of 20 years, the aronia production will vary on plant population, but 2 to 5 tons per acre can be achieved.
The chemical composition of the black aronia berry may vary slightly depending on the region and weather conditions during growth. Fresh, ripe aronia fruit contains 74 to 83% water and 26 to 17% dry mass. Approximately 18% is soluble substance such as sugars, acids, tannins, pectins, pigments and mineral salts. The presence of tannins in the aronia give it the characteristic flavor valued in food processing and the wine industry.
Due to its valuable content in vitamins, aronia berries qualify it as a medicinal plant. Some studies have shown it useful in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, gastritis, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, haemorrhoid, and capillary conditions. In most recent studies, aronia has demonstrated that it helps neutralize the detrimental effects of radiation on the human body.
Aronia berry is showing that it is a “nutritionally dense” natural fruit that is becoming more and more in demand as a food and medical source. It is truly a native plant with “infinite possibilities.”
Here is a picture of a JoANNA-3 Aronia Berry Harvester being set up at the Black Squirrel. (from left to right, Charlie Caldwell, Robert Weremczuk, Artur Spryszak, Terry Eyberg)