The genus Aronia, commonly known as chokeberry, is a genus of deciduous, multi-stemmed shrubs native to eastern North America.
Three species of chokeberry are commonly accepted: A. arbutifolia, red chokeberry; A. melanocarpa, black chokeberry; and A. × prunifolia, or purple chokeberry.
The third species, A.× prunifolia, is generally considered to be a naturally occurring, interspecific hybrid between A. arbutifolia and A. melanocarpa (Brand, 2010; Dirr, 2009; Rehder, 1920). Most sources distinguish the species by either red or black fruit color (Hardin, 1973), plus the degree of pubescence on leaves, stems and inflorescences (Krussmann, 1986). Aronia arbutifolia possesses dense tomentum on the undersides of leaf blades, stems, and inflorescences compared to nearly glabrous A. melanocarpa. Brand (2010) demonstrates both extremes of fruit color and pubescence can be observed in A. × prunifolia, indicating additional characteristics such as fruit ripening times, ploidy, geography, and DNA marker information are required for accurate identification.
The genus Aronia belongs to the Rosaceae subtribe Pyrinae (formerly subfamily Maloideae) which includes Sorbus (mountain ash), Malus (apple), Pyrus (pear), Amelanchier (serviceberry), Crataegus (hawthorn), and several other woody plants with pomes or apple-like fruits (Campbell et al., 2007; Gleason and Cronquist, 1991; Robertson et al., 1991).