Skip to main content


There’s Nothing Aronias Here

By Beet 2023 04 April

No April foolin’!  Although Aronia (Rosaceae family), is native to Eastern North America, it’s been a hidden treasure until recently.

With recent “Super Fruit” movements, (consuming fruits rich in color, having abundant vitamins, fatty acids, minerals, antioxidants, and other potentially healthful compounds not found in most foods), Aronia melanocarpa has been spotlighted.

Aronia is a genus of deciduous shrubs that emerged from Eastern North America.  Also known as chokeberry for its tart-astringent flavor that can nearly bring on choking fits, it’s not to be confused with chokecherry, a wholly different plant.

There are four species: melanocarpa (black chokeberry), arbutifolia (red chokeberry), prunifolia (purple chokeberry, a natural hybrid of melanocarpa x arbutifolia), and Mitschurinii (a cultivated hybrid also called Sorbaronia).

Melanocarpa (once thought related to Photinia but no longer so) is the variety you’ll likely find to plant in your garden plot.

With nutritiously rich ebony-colored berries, (actually fruits not berries), it’s no wonder melanocarpa, (melano, meaning black, carpa, meaning fruit) has been extensively used for hundreds of years by Native Americans for their health-enhancing properties. “Pemmican” – made by pounding Aronia fruits into buffalo, deer or antelope meats – was dried and preserved.  Lewis and Clark purchased all the highly nutritious lightweight pemmican they could get to sustain them, as had Native Americans, on their journeys.

In the United States, most of Aronia’s native habitat gave way to monoculture crops and urbanization, accounting for its near disappearance as a food crop.  European countries (first Russia, then Scandinavia and later Poland and Austria) took up propagation.  Poland now produces 80% of today’s commercially used berries.

Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin (renowned Russian botanist) developed a genotype, Aronia mitschurinii, named in his honor that’s still cultivated industrially near Moscow.

With its recent recognition as a world-class “Super Fruit” Aronia has been showing up in the US since the 1990’s, not only as a popular landscape shrub but most importantly propagated for its harvestable nutritious berries.

Omaha’s Kenny Sailors (an Aronia farmer), discovering the health benefits of Aronia, started the ’90’s propagation movement that gave rise to his company, “Superberries.”

Although the sweet-sour-astringent fruits can be consumed off the bush, they’re usually processed to be more palatable.  They make wonderful juice, jam, syrup, soft spreads, salsa, tea, sorbet, ice cream, extracts, beer and wine.  They’re also used for making naturally stable dye.

You can also learn more by going to  There you’ll discover more about this fruit and health conditions it can potentially benefit.

Aronia are lovely 3-4’ shrubs with oblong, emerald leaves that turn fiery crimson in autumn.  They’re adorned with delicate, white, five-petaled flowers in spring followed by small pom fruits resembling miniature apples that ripen to near obsidian-black.  Fruits are ripe when flesh is deep crimson.  They like full sun or partial shade, and tolerate a wide variety of soils, including wet or boggy soils.

Aronia are very resilient and survive freezing temps down to zone 3. They aren’t bothered by pests or disease (excluding deer and birds who may dine on ripe berries).

With continued interest in Aronia’s health benefits, plants are more widely available for home growers.  There’s nothing “Aronias” about this beneficial and beautiful plant you can propagate in your own “Super Fruit” garden space.




American Aronia Berry Association


NCSU Research Center


Plant Sources:

One Green World

They have four kinds of Aronia.


Raintree Nursery



Aronia and Apple Crisp


1 ½ cups oat flour

1 cup coconut sugar

1 cup regular rolled oats

1/2 cup olive oil

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients until crumbly and set aside.


4 cups of organic apples (Fuji, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Jonathon). Peel if desired (but most food value is in peel). Cut in cubes.

1 cup fresh Aronia berries (thawed if frozen)

½ cup coconut sugar

½ cup honey or agave nectar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Sprinkle, then press down 2/3 cup of crumbs onto the bottom of a greased 9” square baking pan. Pour in apple mixture, then top with remaining crumb mixture.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until apples are tender.  Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.