Medium-sized shrub, native to North America; develops numerous erect, densely branched stems, which reach 90-150 cm in height. The lanceolate leaves are bright green, they become reddish or orange in autumn, before falling. In late spring it produces large bunches of pinkish-white flowers, with five petals; in summer, small roundish, pendulous fruits, which turn black when ripe, occur. The fruits of aronia melanocarpa they are edible. These shrubs have a dense growth, to prevent them from losing their leaves in the inner areas, it is advisable to prune the old stems at the base every 3-4 years.
The aronia melanocarpa is a deciduous shrub belonging to the rosaceae family. It comes mainly from the damp woods of the eastern United States.
The genus is composed (depending on the classification) by two or three species plus an interspecific hybrid.
They are inserted in green spaces both for their ornamental qualities and for the fruits produced: lately, in fact, their consumption has spread in virtue of their beneficial qualities. They can be eaten raw, even if they generally undergo processing in order to significantly improve their taste. In fact, they are particularly acidic in their natural state. Once cooked the sourness fades leaving the place to a very sweet taste.
Juices, jams and sauces are made from it. They are also used to flavor herbal teas, chewing gum and ice cream. They are also used massively to produce natural dyes (especially deep pink, given the massive presence of anthocyanins). However, they are particularly rich in vitamins (such as C, B1 and B2, in addition to provitamin A), in fibers and in flavonoids and therefore considered an authentic cure for heart health, to reduce glycaemia in diabetics and as antioxidants for the fight aging.
|Family and gender|
Rosaceae, gen. aronia, 3 or 4 species
|Type of plant||Deciduous tree|
|Exposure||Full sun, half shade|
|Ground||Not demanding, possibly sub-acid and fresh, not calcareous,|
|Irrigation||Adjust, avoid stagnation|
|Composting||In spring with products for fruit plants|
|colors||White or pink flowers, red, black or dark blue fruits|
Aronia, as we have said, has three species of deciduous shrubs. They are very appreciated for their compactness and because they give the autumn garden some beautiful warm colors, thanks to the colors that their leaves take on. They also produce beautiful black or red berries, shiny, about the size of a pea.
The shrub, as a whole, measures from 1.5 to 3 meters in height and has a slightly enlarged and decumbent growth habit. The hypogeum apparatus is rather superficial, composed of fine and fibrous roots. The leaves are narrow, 5 to 8 cm long, alternate, with finely serrated edges. The color is a bright green which, when autumn arrives, turns towards red, orange and purple.
Like apple trees, it produces bunches of white flowers, very decorative, made up of 5 small petals, which irresistibly attract the bees. The corymbs include from 10 to 25 flowers, mid-spring, hermaphrodite and therefore able to self-fertilize: we will not therefore be forced to plant two plants of the same species to obtain the fruits.
They always look for damp environments, such as those of the undergrowth.
The berries represent an irrepressible appeal for small birds.
The name aronia derives from the Greek and unites the plant with the rowan.
Place in a sunny, or partially shady place; they do not fear the cold and can withstand very harsh temperatures. They are also suitable for use in road beds, as they can tolerate pollution, and even the salty air of marine areas. Although in its spontaneous state it grows in poorly lit areas such as undergrowth, when used for fruit production or for ornamental purposes it is preferable to always place them in full sun. This is because in a very hot area flowering, pollination and fruiting are significantly greater.
Furthermore the sun directly on the foliage guarantees a more garish autumn color to the whole bush, making it the true protagonist of the garden, during that period.
However, if we do not have such a position, we can easily be content with a half-shade exposure, the important thing is that it is not too thick. The ideal in that case is to place them under deciduous trees
These shrubs hardly endure prolonged periods of drought; from March to October it is good to water regularly, if the rains are not frequent. During the winter months they can remain in dry soil. They grow without problems even in damp or wet soil.
Aronia melanocarpa absolutely does not want an arid soil. It is therefore important to ensure that the substrate is able to retain water, improving its texture.
Irrigations should be frequent, especially in summer and if the exposure is full sun: natural rainfalls are rarely enough to satisfy its water needs. Let us therefore engage rather frequently and absolutely avoid the soil being completely dry. As we have said, in fact, the root system is rather superficial and the plant is not able to reach the humidity present in the deep layers of the soil.
To significantly reduce the frequency of operations, we can prepare a thick mulching layer made of straw or pine bark, at the foot of the shrubs. In this way we will avoid evaporation affecting the amount of water present in the area.
Place in rich and drained soil, avoiding excessively clayey areas. In fact, these plants can be adapted without problems even in the common garden soil or in semi-marshy areas.
In this respect the aronia melanocarpa is not demanding. It adapts to a large number of substrates. It also tolerates the salty ones rather well and only those that are excessively poor, sandy and dry very quickly are to be avoided.
To obtain excellent results, slightly acidic soils (with a pH between 5 and 6.5) should be preferred, therefore they should be little or not calcareous at all, rich in organic matter and capable of optimally retaining humidity. Root rots are rarely a problem, so poorly draining soils or swampy areas can also be good.
The multiplication of this plant occurs by seed, in autumn, or by semi-woody cutting in summer. The aronies produce numerous basal shoots, in late spring it is possible to divide them from the mother plant and plant them individually.
Pests and diseases
Generally these plants are not affected by pests or diseases.
This plant was introduced in Eastern Europe, Asia, Scandinavia and Russia in the early 20th century. It has aroused the interest of many nurserymen and botanists to the point that research has immediately begun to obtain hybrids suitable for both ornamental purposes and to maximize fruit production.
Currently it is considered, in some countries of Northern Europe, slightly invasive and it is therefore necessary to pay some attention when introducing it into one's own garden.
In the places of origin it has been known since ancient times and was commonly used by the natives for its many nutritional and healing virtues.
These are very resistant shrubs. They don't fear the cold at all (they are able to withstand temperatures as low as -35 ° C) or even extreme heat. The important thing is that the soil is always at least slightly damp.
To get a good production it is good to regularly give a good slow release fertilizer for fruit plants.
The ideal is to intervene in autumn distributing abundantly mature manure at the foot of the shrubs, so that the soil remains vital and well ventilated.
In spring we can spread granular fertilizer with good amounts of potassium. We follow the manufacturer's instructions about the quantity, referring to the tables concerning small fruits (blueberries, currants or raspberries).
The best period for planting is from October to December, but it is also possible to operate until March-April, avoiding the months in which the soil is frozen and too full of water.
It is good to work the area well in advance, so that the ground can be revitalized. We will incorporate good quantities of organic soil conditioner (possibly well-seasoned flour manure). If we notice an excessively calcareous soil, it will also be good to incorporate a little peat into it.
The ideal distance between one individual and another is about 1 meter, between the rows, instead, they must be left at least 3-4 meters.
To have a good production it will be necessary to wait at least four years.
Proceed from February to April: cut at least 1/3 of the old wood at the base, to stimulate the production of new basal jets. Old, weak or misdirected branches should also be eliminated.
If we want to preserve the fruits from the attack of the birds it will be good to cover our shrubs with nets. For sale there are products specifically designed for this purpose.
The fruits need about three months to reach maturity. You can start harvesting around October (a little earlier in the south of the peninsula). We check that the fruits are well black or red (depending on the species) and then we cut all the corymb at the base. We always use gloves because the colorant released from the fruit is difficult to remove from the hands.
Full production starts from the seventh year after planting and is around 10 tons per hectare, about 2.5 kg per single plant.
Aronia melanocarpa: Species and cultivar
Aronia arbutifolia (red aronia) generally grows up to 4 meters in height, but, in places of origin, it can even reach 6 meters. It has leaves 5 to 8 cm long, pelossette on the lower page. The flowers are pinkish-white, about 1 cm in diameter. The fruits are red, translucent, with a diameter of 4 to 10 mm. If not collected they do not fall to the ground throughout the winter, making the whole pier pleasant to the eye.
The aronia melanocarpa (black aronia) is smaller in size. It reaches a maximum of 1 meter in height and 3 in width. It has small leaves, not more than 6 cm long, smooth both on the front and on the back and finely serrated. The flowers are white about 1.5 cm in diameter. The fruits are black and shiny, up to 1 cm in diameter. They do not resist on the plant during the winter season.
Aronia prunifolia It is probably the result of an interspecific hybridization between the two previous ones, although some consider it to all intents and purposes an autonomous species. It has slightly pelosette leaves, the fruits are dark blue, with a maximum diameter of 1 cm.
HYBRIDS AND CULTIVAR
Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliant'
Very cold resistant.
Berries used as a colorant or fruit of "health"
White flowers and fruits
Very commercialized both as a fruit-bearing and for ornamental purposes
Aronia x prunifolia 'Viking'
Up to 2 meters high
Red foliage in autumn
It flowers in May
Big black fruits
Aronia x prunifolia 'Black'
Up to 2 meters in height and width.
Oval leaves, purple in autumn
Large flowers, between March and April
Big shiny black fruits in September-October
The most rustic.
The fruits remain throughout the winter, excellent to be consumed fresh, cooked or for juices.