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Red chokeberries

The chokeberries (Aronia) are two species of deciduous shrubs in the family Rosaceae, native to eastern North America and most commonly found in wet woods and swamps. The two species are readily distinguished by their fruit colour, from which the common names derive. The fruit is a small pome, with a very astringent, bitter flavour; it is eaten by birds (birds do not taste astringency and feed on them readily), which then disperse the seeds in their droppings. The name "chokeberry" comes from the astringency of the fruits which are inedible when raw.

The chokeberries are attractive ornamental plants for gardens. They are naturally understory and woodland edge plants, and grow well when planted under trees. Chokeberries are resistant to drought, insects, pollution, and disease. Several cultivars have been developed for garden planting, including A. arbutifolia 'Brilliant', selected for its striking fall leaf colour, and A. melanocarpa 'Viking' and 'Nero', selected for larger fruit suitable for jam-making.

Juice from these berries is astringent and not sweet, but high in vitamin C and antioxidants. The berries can be used to make wine or jam after cooking. Aronia is also used as a flavouring or colourant for beverages or yogurts.

The red chokeberry's fruit is more palatable and can be eaten raw. It has a sweeter flavour than the black species and is used to make jam or pemmican (an emergency foodstuff made from fat, proteins and vitamins - chokeberry is extremely high in vitamin C ).

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