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Canada Red Chokecherry tree

Are You Ready to Embrace the Canada Red Chokecherry Tree?

With a name like “chokecherry” the Canada Red Chokecherry tree hardly sounds appetizing, but would a rose by any other name smell so sweet? 

Canada Red Chokecherry
Red chokecherry and green foliage in summer garden. Prunus virginiana

While we can’t answer Shakespeare’s eternal question, we can say for sure that not only does the Canada Red Chokecherry taste amazing when properly prepared, these trees are also very easy to grow in North America. 

Let’s stop judging Canada Red Chokecherries by their name and start judging them by their beauty and taste. 

History of the Canada Red Chokecherry Tree

Canada Red Chokecherries trees are common sights throughout the United States and Canada. A few species even reach as far south as Mexico. These trees have been a part of North American culture since the very concept existed. 

First Nations and indigenous people throughout North America have had a special place for the Canada Red Chokecherry in their cultures. These cherries have been used in traditional foods, medicines, and even an herbal mixture known as kinnikinnick. The Canada Red Chokecherry tree is a historically important and versatile fruit tree. 

If you’re looking for more news about the this tree, the humble chokecherry is the state fruit of North Dakota since more chokecherry remains are found in archeological sites in that state than anywhere else in the world. 

Alright, that’s enough of a history lesson about the Canada Red Chokecherry tree, but trust us when we say that this fruit tree is far more exciting than people give it credit for. 

Canada Red Chokecherry Tree Characteristics

Cananda Red Chokecherry Blossoms
Close up view of emerging white flowers on a Canada red chokecherry tree in spring

This is a statement tree. With a deep red foliage that holds color throughout the summer and into the fall, you’ll be the talk of the town when you plant one of these iconic fruit trees in your yard. 

The branches form a tight-knit which makes this tree a staple of four seasons planting. You’ll have beautiful spring blossoms, delicious fruit in the summer, deep red foliage for summer and autumn, and wonderful snowy branches in the winter. 

Let’s get into what it takes to grow your own Canada Red Chokecherry tree. 

Planting Zones

These trees are cold hardy and can handle hot weather like a pro. You can find the Canada Red Chokecherry tree in zones 2 through 8. This means everyone from Northern Mexico to Canada can enjoy chokecherries even though they are most common in the United States. 

If you’ve been looking into how to grow the Canada Red Chokecherry, you’re in luck! You probably already live in an ideal climate for this tree. 

Size and Spacing

These trees grow upwards of 20-feet tall and have a spread that ranges from 10 to 15-feet. This means that you are going to need to give them some breathing room. 

Besides, this tree is a statement piece. Let it stand out a little. 


The Canada Red Chokecherry tree is self-pollinating. That means it does not require another compatible tree to pollinate. With that said, this tree is loved by pollinators. Birds, butterflies, and other members of nature’s gardening assistants will be drawn to this tree once the flowers bloom. 

Here’s what you’ll need to take care of your very own Canada Red Chokecherry tree. 

Tree Care 

These are some tough chokecherries. After thousands of years on the North American continent, they’ve proved their status as some of the toughest plants. 

Here’s the 101 on Canada Red Chokecherry tree care. 


These are full sunlight trees. This means they should be planted in a space that will give them 6 to 8-hours of unbroken sunlight each day. This is especially important when they are just starting out and can be overshadowed by building and larger trees. 


These trees require a moderate moisture level and a well-drained soil. In order to make sure the watering is right, the soil should be dry up to one inch down. Any drier than that, and it’s time to water these trees. 

Because they are from North America, they often get along with rainfall just fine, but watch out for those droughts. 


Pruning A Cherry Tree
Pruner and garden saw for cutting branches of cherry bush overgrown with lichen.

You’ll want to prune this tree regularly to promote the best health and shape. The best result for pruning the Canada Red Chokecherry comes in either late winter or very early spring. Be careful not to wait too late into spring to prune your trees though. That could interfere with flowering and then fruiting. 

Diseases & Care

There are some common diseases that impact these trees. They are vulnerable to all the standard bacterial and pest-related diseases that can harm all the other members of the Rosaceae family. 

To keep this tree healthy, make sure the water, soil, and sunlight conditions are right for its health. Also keep an eye out for any mold, fungus, or pests that start to appear and tackle those problems early. 

Now let’s talk about why you should be eating Canada Red Chokecherries.

Common Uses For The Canada Red Chokecherry

The Chokecherry has gotten a little lost in the modern culinary scene. Where once we had the star of the North America fruit and berry scene, today we have an icon in need of an image makeover. 

Yes, the seeds are poisonous, but all you need to do is pick them out and what you’re left with is some amazing fruit. 

What Does This Fruit Taste Like?

While there are some that swear by the taste of Canada Red Chokecherries right off the tree, we recommend cooking them first. 

Once you’ve cooked your Canada Red Chokecherries, they add a delicious tartness and a very sour bite to any dish. Let’s go over a few classic uses of the Canada Red Chokecherry. 


Easy Cherry Crumble (click for recipe)

Here’s where we get going. This cherry has such untapped culinary potential. 

The Canada Red Chokecherry tree is ready to be brought into everything from sweet syrups with a tangy bite to delicious traditional dishes. 

Eating raw

As long as you pick the seeds out, you can eat Canada Red Chokecherries raw. The flavor might be very astringent, but if that’s what you’re looking for then these chokecherries will deliver. 

Some people have reported that if you pick them just after they ripen, the flavor actually gets a little more mild and develops more depth for eating raw. 

Canning / Freezing / Drying

This is where these chokecherries shine. You can make delicious syrups, jams, and other preserves using the Canada Red Chokecherry. These recipes are historic, yet flavorful enough for the modern dinner table. It’s time we think they have come back. 

If you’re looking for a unique use of the Canada Red Chokecherry, you can ferment it into wine! Canada Red Chokecherry wine is up there with dandelion wine on the list of legendary North American brews. 

Surprising Recipes Using the Canada Red Chokecherry 

If you’re looking for a recipe that will change your mind about the Canada Red Chokecherry, we’ve got you. From historic pemmican, to jam, and even wine, there are countless uses for the Canada Red Chokecherry. 

Health Benefits of the Canada Red Chokecherry

Let’s talk about the elephant, or rather the seeds, in the room. 

The seeds of the Canada Red Chokecherry are poisonous to humans and some other mammals. If you’re planning to grow this tree just for ornament, then you have nothing to fear. If you want to snack on your Chokecherries, then you are going to need to de-seed before you cook. 

Once the seeds are out, the Canada Red Chokecherry is as delicious as it is safe. People have been eating Canada Red Chokecherries for thousands of years. 

Here are a few health benefits of Canada Red Chokecherry trees:

  • Boost immune system health
  • Rich in antioxidants and other cancer-fighting compounds 
  • Can help fight against allergies 

Where To Buy This Cherry Tree?

If you’re looking to plant a Canada Red Chokecherry tree in your yard, you’ll need to buy one first.

You can find seeds as well as trees ready to be transplanted. The Canada Red Chokecherry tree does well throughout North America making it a common sight at gardening shops the continent over. You can order a Canada Red Chokecherry today online and save yourself a trip to the store. 

Where To Buy These Cherries

People have gotten out of touch with one of North America’s best berry trees. The Canada Red Chokecherry has a rich and proud history, and we do ourselves no favors by ignoring it for its more popular cousins: cherries, apricots, and apples. 

It might be hard to locate Canada Red Chokecherries for sale at your local mega mart. These cherries are often sold at farmers markets or by specialty sellers. Hopefully, with a little time and a few good recipes, we can win the Canada Red Chokecherry back its place at the top of North American fruit trees. 

Wrapping Up

The Canada Red Chokecherry tree has a rich and powerful history. It is used to create some of the most delicious pies, jams, and wines North America has to offer. Planting a few Canada Red Chokecherry trees can also help your local birds and butterflies. 

We hope that this article got you to think a little differently about Canada Red Chokecherries. The Canada Red Chokecherry tree is not only a beautiful ornamental that supports your local environment, it is also a source of some seriously delicious fruit. 

Excited for more cherry content? Then visit our cherry page for more planting tips, growing guides, recipe ideas, and more!

Jim Reeder

Saturday 30th of July 2022

Great information on Canada Red Chokecherry. We had one that was apparently killed by a boring insect, boring just below the bark. Unfortunately we didn’t know this until the tree was dead. Any idea what it might have been. And do we dare plant another one. It was a fantastic tree. Thanks for your help.


Saturday 6th of August 2022

I'm not sure! If it was thriving, then yes, I'd plant another one. Keep an eye on it of course. The sticky stuff around the trunk will stop a lot of crawly critters.