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Common Shrub Species of the Northwest Forest

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Prunus virginiana
Choke Cherry
Rosaceac (Rose Family)

Description

General - shrub or small tree, 1-6 m tall; bark smooth, reddish brown to grey-brown, becomes dark with age, does not peel readily, with inconspicuous, raised pores.

Choke Cherry Leaves - alternate; thin, elliptic to obovate, 2-10 cm long, sharp-pointed to rounded at tip, blunt at base; bright green and hairless above, paler below; edges have fine, sharp teeth; stalks have 2 or 3 prominent glands.

Flowers - in many-flowered, bottlebrush-like clusters 5-15 cm long at ends of branches; flowers are white, 10-12 mm across; appearing May to June.

Fruit - shiny, red, purple or black cherries, about 8 mm across, edible but astringent; ripening in August and September.

Habitat

Woods, clearings, hillsides and river terraces; often on dry and exposed sites; widespread across NW Ontario's boreal region, north and west to southern N.W.T. and northern B.C.

Notes

Distinguished from the Pin Cherry by the leaves. The Choke Cherry has broader, egg-shaped leaves and dense, elongated, terminal flower clusters. May also be mistaken for the Mountain Juneberry. Identification can be made by observing the leafstalks; the Choke Cherry leaves have glandular leafstalks while Mountain Juneberry leaves do not.

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