In addition to antioxidants, the berries have been proven to aid with diabetes, cardiovascular health, and the circulatory system. A recent study by the USDA showed that regular consumption of Aronia berry extracts actually slows the intake of insulin in the body, thus inhibiting weight gain. Theoretically, these findings suggest that Aronia might lead of lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.
[Image from Fine Gardening.com]
While Aronia was widely used by Native Americans for teas, medicines, and cooking, European settlers generally ignored this plant. Commonly called Chokeberry, the plants berries have a sharply sour and sometimes astringent taste. The unpleasantness of the raw fruit can be overcome by cooking or processing it into jams, salsas, or baked goods. The internet abounds with recipes that show how to tame the sharp taste of the raw berry.
article from the Des Moines Register features the farm.
And the effect is indeed wonderful. In late spring the glossy leaves are loaded with clusters of white flowers which pollinator’s love. By late summer, the flowers turn into showy red or black berries which will attract a wide range of local or migratory birds. The fall color is possibly the most outstanding feature of the plant. Most Aronias turn a brilliant red color with strong oranges, purples, and yellows.
[Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima' in background shown at maturity for planting I designed while at OvS.]
My favorite ornamental cultivar is Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’. The upright habit, full blooms, bright red berries, and intense fall color are outstanding on this plant. If you want to grow the plant for its healthful berries, I would recommend Aronia melanocarpa ‘Viking’. This European cultivar is apparently one of the more productive black-berried plants. For a compact cultivar, try Aronia melanocarpa ‘Iroquois Beauty’, developed by the Morton Arboretum. The wonderful folks at Lazy S’s Farm sell a wide variety of Aronia cultivars mail order through the internet. Here is a link to that page.