Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Black Chokeberry - Aronia melanocarpa   (Michaux) Elliott
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
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Author(Michaux) Elliott
DistributionThroughout the mountains, and sparingly to an undetermined extent (in terms of natural sites) to the eastern Piedmont. Ranges east to Wake County (natural occurrence?). The Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora website map has the species ranging far into the southeastern part of the state. Thus, it would be expected to occur into the northwestern Coastal Plain or certainly over much or most of the NC Piedmont. Weakley's (2018) state map shows it as "rare" in the state's Piedmont.

Rangewide, this is a Northern species, occurring from Canada south in the Appalachians to northern GA and northern AL, and to western TN.
AbundanceFrequent to locally common in the mountains; rare and local in the Piedmont, and the eastern extent of natural occurrences is quite unsettled.
HabitatIt has two quite different habitats. The species is most frequent on balds and granitic domes, and other exposed outcrops, generally at high elevations. However, it does occur in mountain bogs, as well. Farther into the Piedmont, it can occur in wetlands.
PhenologyBlooms in mid-to-late spring, typically May into June. Fruits in August and September.
IdentificationThis is a non-rhizomatous deciduous shrub, thus not occurring in dense colonies. It is a fairly low-growing species, mostly only to 2-6 feet tall. It is a characteristic species of the margins of high elevation and exposed rock outcrops, especially granitic domes; montane biologists should be familiar with this species and A. arbutifolia and their habitat differences. Like that species, the leaves are elliptical and show tiny serrated teeth along all margins. However, this species has the lower surface of leaves, as well as the twigs and the inflorescence rachis notably glabrous as opposed to pubescent; the other species is quite pubescent. In addition, Black Chokeberry has a fruit (pome) that is black when ripe, hence the common name. The poorly known A. prunifolia, which is likely of hybrid origin, also is rather pubescent on the leave undersides, twigs, and rachis infloresence; it has a dark purple fruit when ripe.
Taxonomic CommentsAs with other chokeberries, the species has also been placed in the genus Sorbus (e.g., RAB 1968), as well as Pyrus and Photinia.

Other Common Name(s)Essentially no other in regular usage.
State RankS3S4
Global RankG5
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