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Chokecherry Wine Details


Varietal Definition
The common chokecherry, sometimes called the wild cherry, is found in all of the United States except the Gulf and lower Atlantic States and all but the very northern provinces of Canada. It is but one of dozens of members of the genus Prunus--which includes plums and cherries but is really the rose family--native to the United States and Canada. Chokecherries, botanically, are Prunus virginiana, but chokecherry befits them for two reasons; they are uncommonly sour and their stones (seeds) and wilted leaves contain hydrocyanic acid, which is extremely unhealthy. Growing as a shrub or small tree to 25 feet in height, it is often found along moist woodland margins, fencerows, roadsides, streambeds, and shorelines. Its smooth, often reddish-brown bark is quite distinctive. Its 3/8-inch flowers have five white, rounded petals and grow in dense, elongated clusters. The berries ripen from mid-summer to October, depending on location, as dark red to almost black. The berries are round, fleshy, 1/3 to 2/5 inch, and encase an egg-shaped stone which should be removed. When ripe, the berries are fairly juicy and popular among many birds. The only slightly toxic berry that could possibly be confused with the chokecherry is the Carolina laurelberry (Prunus caroliniana), but the chokecherry's bark and alternating, jagged-edged leaves are good identifiers.


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