Prunus virginiana

Photo Courtesy of K. Hubeny

Common Name(s) Choke Cherry, Bitter-Berry, Virginia Bird Cherry
Scientific Name Prunus virginiana
Family Rosaceae
Location/Vegetative Zone Thicket
Flowering Period April through July
Identifying Characteristics Grows 5m tall


  • Small tree or shrub native to North America.
  • Leaves
    • Oval-shaped and about 3-10cm long
    • Smooth but not glossy
  • Small white flowers
  • Cherries are about 1cm in diameter
    • Range from red to black in color
    •  Grow in mid-may


Medicinal/Edible Uses

  • Berries are somewhat edible to humans
    • Bright red berries have more of a bitter or astringent taste than the darker red or black ones
    • A staple in the diet of Native Americans
  • Seeds edible
  • Antioxidant

Cultural Uses

  • Various dyes extracted from fruits and leaves
  • Used to craft wine in the Midwest


  • Berries called “bird cherries” because they are generally eaten by birds


Prunus virginiana- L.”. Plants For A Future. Web.

Prunus virginiana L. chokecherry”. USDA NRCS. Web.

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