Flowers - Red Choke-berry; Dogberry Tree
( Originally Published 1916 )
(Aronia arbutifolia) Apple family
(Pyrus arbutifolia of Gray)
Flowers—White or magenta tinged, 1/2 in. across or less, in terminal, compound cymes, finally overtopped by young sterile shoots. Calyx 5-lobed, hairy ; 5 concave, spreading petals ; stamens numerous ; 3 to 5 styles united at base ; ovary woolly. Stem : Shrubby, branching, usually low, rarely 12 ft. high. Leaves : Alternate, petioled, oval to oblong, finely cut-edged, smooth above, matted with woolly hairs underneath. Fruit: Small, round or top-shaped, bright red berries.
Preferred Habitat—Swamps, low ground, wet thickets. Flowering Season—March—May.
Distribution—Nova Scotia to Gulf of Mexico, westward to the Mississippi.
Another common species often found in the same haunts, the Black Choke-berry (A. nigra), with similar flowers, the berries very dark purple, was formerly confounded with the red choke-berry. But because it sometimes elects to live in dry ground its leaves require no woolly mat on the underside to absorb vapors arising from wet retreats. (See Steeple-bush, p. 96.) No wonder that the insipid little berries, related to apples, pears, and other luscious fruits, should share with a cousin, the mountain ash, or rowan, the reproachful name of dogberry.