Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Prunus virginiana L.

Common name(s): chokecherry, choke cherry, common chokecherry

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


– woody perennial

– generally flowers in late May-early June in ME

Shrub or small tree 4’-20′ tall with dark smooth bark with white horizontal lenticels. Leaves alternate, oval to lance-shaped, bright green above, paler below and sharply toothed.  Flowers white, in dense clusters 3”-6” long.  Fruit is dark red to black.  Twigs have rank odor when crushed. Prefers moist rich soils.

– may be confused with P. serotina; see left sidebar on Go Botany webpage


Heinrich, B. 1976. Flowering phenologies: Bog, woodland, and disturbed habitats. Ecology. 57(5):890-899.