Brilliant Red ChokeberryAronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima’
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Probiotic Root Stimulant
Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Brilliant Red Chokeberry is an attractive deciduous shrub, forming a dense bush 6 or 8 feet tall and about 4 feet wide. It has remarkable fall colors of brilliant red, and a heavy and attractive crop of glossy red berries. This native American plant is ideal for any low-maintenance garden, wild-flower garden or natural planting, and it fits well into a more formal garden too. The flowers feed butterflies, and the berries feed mockingbirds and other wild birds, if you don’t get there first to make healthy juice and delicious jellies.
Grow the Brilliant Red Chokeberry in full sun for the best fall color, but it grows well in partial shade too. It is adaptable to most soils, including wet ones, and established plants are tolerant of ordinary periods of drought. It is normally untouched by pests or diseases, and deer usually leave it alone. No special care is needed, but some spring pruning of older plants will keep it vigorous and encourage lots of berries.
Not so long ago we would have told you what a great shrub the Brilliant Red Chokeberry is, with its brilliant fall colors and bunches of bright red berries, and its value as a native shrub. Today all that is still true, but with both healthy eating and growing your own food being so important, and of so much interest to our customers, we must add healthy fruit to the value of this plant. Russians and Eastern Europeans have long known about the health-promoting properties of the juice of the chokeberry, packed with Vitamin C, polyphenols and anthocyanins. Only now are we starting to value this bush, despite it having been always with us, growing across the eastern states. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for easy plants to bring color and interest to your garden, or want to grow your own healthy produce, this is a shrub you want to grow – and luckily it’s easy to do that.
The Brilliant Red Chokeberry is an upright deciduous shrub, with multiple branches rising from its base, that will soon be 6 to 8 feet tall, spreading outwards to be 3 to 5 feet wide. It has slender branches with a smooth, dark gray-brown bark, and an open, light look that fits well into any garden setting, from woodland to more formal beds. Over time stems will come from the roots, developing a denser thicket, but it does not spread far, and it’s not invasive.
The leaves are smooth and glossy. They are oval, about 3½ inches long, with a dark green upper surface and a hairy, lighter gray-green lower surface. In fall the leaves turn brilliant shades of red. If you are familiar with the Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus), then you can picture how bright and colorful the Brilliant red Chokeberry is, because it is almost as bright as that famous tree. Because it is a native plant it will not escape into the wild and harm local ecology.
In spring, clusters of white to pale pink flowers, each about one-third of an inch across, are produced among the new leaves. Over summer these develop into abundant bunches of ¼ inch fruits, which are glossy, attractive and brilliant red. Once ripe these can be harvested and after boiling turned into juice and jellies. The raw fruit is very astringent, and so it is not very tasty, but the juice, which can be sweetened by mixing it with apple juice, is excellent and very, very healthy.
With its casual look, this is a versatile shrub for almost anywhere in the garden. It is most at home in a bed with other shrubs, beside a pond or stream, or at the edges of woodlands. It grows well in wet soil, so it is perfect if you have wet areas to plant, but it grows perfectly well in ordinary garden situations too. A row, placed 2 to 3 feet apart, would make an excellent informal screen between a wilder part of the garden and a more formal one. For juice production you can grow a row in your vegetable or fruit garden. This plant is also a top-choice for wildlife planting, as the flowers are visited by many butterflies and other pollinators, and the fruit is a valuable food for wild birds, including mockingbirds.
This tough native plant is hardy almost everywhere, from zone 4 to zone 9, so it can be grown across all the country.
Full sun will give you the strongest fall color, but if you have partial shade, the Brilliant Red Chokeberry will be just as happy. It grows easily in most soils, including wet and even flooded ones, so it is ideal for those places, which can be difficult to find attractive shrubs for. Ordinary garden soils, both acidic and alkaline, are perfect too, and it is only dry, sandy soils that do not suit this easy-care plant so well.
For ordinary garden use no particular care is needed, making this a great low-maintenance choice. After a few years you can remove a few of the oldest branches at ground level, or where new branches have developed low down. This will invigorate it and keep plenty of berries coming. If you are growing it as a fruit crop, remove some of the stems that come from the ground, so that it doesn’t become too bushy, making it hard to reach in and harvest your berry crop. This bush is normally free of pests and diseases, and generally ignored by deer.
There are three native chokeberries growing in North America. They are the black chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa, the red chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia, and the purple chokeberry, Aronia x prunifolia. As the names suggest, they are distinguished mainly by their berry color, as well as other more detailed characteristics. The red chokeberry can be found growing all the way from Nova Scotia inland to Ohio, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, and south into Texas. We don’t know the origin of the plant that is usually called ‘Brilliantisimma’, and sometimes ‘Brilliant’, and some people even consider it a form of the purple chokeberry. What we do know is that this is an excellent garden plant, with glossier leaves, stronger fall color and more abundant berries – and that is what matters most.
With the interest in native plants and home-grown food, the Brilliant Red Chokeberry is a winner on all fronts, and a valuable garden plant that is easy to grow. It has been awarded a Gold Medal in 2000 by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. These awards are for plants with outstanding garden value, so you know how good this plant is. Our supply is limited, so order now, as we won’t have them long.