Chokecherry Vs Chokeberry; 5 Fascinating Benefits Hidden In Time

This is a little different to our other versus articles in this series as you’ll probably already know when looking at chokecherry vs chokeberry, there are some similarities that are quire rewarding.

The biggest plus with these two is that they are generally considered to both be edible. The ripe fruit of the plant that is, not any other part of the plant.

Chokecherry Introduction

Chokecherries, also known as Prunus virginiana, are a type of small, tart berry that is native to North America.

They have a long history of use by indigenous people in the United States and Canada, who used them for food and medicine. [1]

Chokecherries have a deep red or black color and are high in antioxidants and other nutrients.

Indigenous people in North America used chokecherries for a variety of purposes, including as a food source and as a natural medicine, as they were believed to have astringent and tonic properties. The berries were often eaten fresh, or they were dried and stored for use during the winter months.

The leaves and bark of the chokecherry plant were used to make teas and other remedies to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, colds, and sore throats. The berries themselves were also used medicinally, as they were believed to have astringent and tonic properties. [2]

Today, chokecherries are still used in traditional and modern medicine, and they are also popular as a food ingredient.

Ancient Keys to Chokecherry Benefits

The chokecherry vs chokeberry benefits do differ from each other. If you want to know more about the benefits that can be found in chokeberries, we’ve touched on that in a previous article where we looked at Black Chokeberry benefits.

Let’s consider some of the chokecherry benefits and potential side effects.

5 Chokecherry Benefits

Some of the benefits of chokecherries include that it:

  1. Is considered to be high in antioxidants
    • Chokecherries are high in antioxidants, which are compounds that help to protect the body against damage caused by free radicals. This can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. [3]
  2. May improve brain function
    • Some research suggests that chokecherries may have a positive effect on brain function. For example, one study found that people who drank chokecherry juice had improved memory and cognitive function compared to those who did not. [4]
  3. May help to manage diabetes
    • Some research suggests that chokecherries may have a positive effect on blood sugar levels and may be useful in the management of diabetes. For example, one study found that people with type 2 diabetes who consumed chokecherries had lower blood sugar levels compared to those who did not. [5]
  4. May reduce the risk of heart disease
    • Chokecherries are high in compounds called flavonoids, which are believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Some research suggests that chokecherries may help to lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels, which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. [6]
  5. May have anti-inflammatory properties
    • Chokecherries are high in compounds called proanthocyanidins, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. This may make chokecherries useful in the management of conditions such as arthritis and asthma. [7]

Chokecherry Side Effects

Even though they are considered to be generally safe to eat and are not expected to cause any adverse side effects, it is important to note specific considerations.

For example, the leaves, bark, and unripe fruit of the chokecherry plant may be toxic if ingested in large amounts, so it is best to only consume the ripe fruit.

More an allergy consideration than a side effect, some people may have reactions to chokecherries or other members of the Prunus family, such as cherries, plums, or peaches. If you are someone who is allergic to these types of fruit, you may experience allergic reactions after consuming chokecherries.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include hives, rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis. If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming chokecherries, it is important to seek medical attention.

Overall, chokecherries are considered to be safe and healthy to consume, but it is always a good idea to talk with a suitably qualified specialist, particularly if you have know that you’re on medication for existing conditions or you have known allergies to certain plants or produce.

You mal also wish to consider Elderberry Vs Echinacea; Make Sure You Know These 6 Facts

Correctly Identifying Chokecherries and Chokeberries

It might sound like splitting hairs when discussing chokecherry vs chokeberry as they sound like they could be interchangeable names. But the fact of the matter is that they are actually different things.

On the other hand, if you are talking about chokeberry vs pokeberry, then you’ve got a valid point, as these two should not be mistaken for each other. Pokeberry, unlike chokecherries, are poisonous.

Some chokecherry look alikes may include:

  • Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) [8]
  • Parts of the Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) [9]
  • Bitter Cherry (Prunus emarginata) [10]
  • Pokeberry (Phytolacca americana) [11]

Whether you consider it a chokecherry tree or a chokeberry bush, the fruit is edible. The rest of the plant, however, is not edible and could leave you feeling very sick. The same can be said for the unripe fruit.

Regardless of if we are looking at chokecherries, or the previous article on pokeberry vs chokeberry, this information have been provided to support a broader understanding of these fruits.

As some will choose to forage and craft their own herbal tea blends, poultices, and remedies, the fact that HerbiTea’s Iron Fluorine tea contains elderberry, and this fruit can be mistaken by the untrained eye for chokecherries, this needs to be discussed.

If you’re foraging for anything that you intend to consume, it is critical that you know what you are doing. It is far to easy to make a mistake and accidentally consume the wrong thing. Some lookalikes can be quite toxic.

elderflower-vs-elderberry-herbitea-iron-fluorine-tea Chokecherry vs Chokeberry

Using Chokeberries

As you learn more about the various aspects of these fruits in your chokecherry vs chokeberry investigations, you may find that you wish to consider looking up some chokeberry recipes. If you want to explore how to use these as an edible fruit, a few ways you can use chokecherries may include:

  • Make jams, jellies, and other preserves
    • Chokecherries are often used to make sweet spreads and preserves due to their tart flavor. They can be combined with sugar and pectin to make jams and jellies, or they can be used to make other types of preserve such as fruit butter or chutney.
  • Add flavor to beverages
    • Chokecherries can be used to add flavor to a variety of beverages, including wines, syrups, and cocktails. They can be used to make chokecherry wine or syrup, or they can be added to other types of wine or cocktails to add a tart, fruity flavor.
  • Bake with them
    • Chokecherries can be used in baked goods such as pies, tarts, and muffins. They can be combined with sugar and other ingredients to make a sweet filling for pies and tarts, or they can be added to muffin and cake batters for a burst of flavor.
  • Eat them fresh
    • While chokecherries are often used in cooked and baked dishes, they can also be eaten fresh. They have a tart, acidic flavor that is similar to a cranberry or sour cherry. You can eat them as a snack, add them to salads or other dishes for a burst of flavor, or mix them with other types of fruit to make a fruit salad.

Chokecherry vs Chokeberry FAQs

Are Chokeberries Poisonous to Humans?

Chokeberries are not poisonous to humans and are actually considered to be quite healthy. They are high in antioxidants and have been shown to have potential health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease, improving brain function, and helping to manage diabetes.

However, it is important to note that the leaves, bark, and unripe fruit of the chokeberry plant may be toxic if ingested in large amounts, so it is best to only consume the ripe fruit.

Can Humans eat Chokecherries?

Yes, humans can eat chokecherries, being the ripe fruit only and not other parts of the plant.

Chokecherries are often used to make all sorts of condiments and preserves, as well as wines, syrups, and other beverages. They can also be eaten fresh, but their tart flavor may be too strong for some people to enjoy on their own.

Are Chokecherries and Huckleberries the same thing?

No, chokecherries and huckleberries are not the same thing. Chokecherries have a distinct purple with a reddish tinge to their appearance. Huckleberries are a type of small, sweet berry that is native to North America.

There are several different species of huckleberry, and they can be found in a variety of colors, including red, blue, purple, and black. Huckleberries have a sweet, slightly tart flavor and are often used in pies, jams, and other baked goods. They are also sometimes eaten fresh.

While chokecherries and huckleberries are both native to North America and are sometimes used in similar ways, they are not the same fruit.

What Happens if you Eat a Chokeberry?

Eating a chokeberry is generally safe and is not expected to cause any adverse effects. They are high in antioxidants and have been shown to have potential health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease, improving brain function, and helping to manage diabetes.

However, it is important to note that the leaves, bark, and unripe fruit of the chokeberry plant may be toxic if ingested in large amounts, so it is best to only consume the ripe fruit.

If you do accidentally eat a chokeberry that is not fully ripe, you are not likely to experience any serious symptoms, but you may feel a little sick to your stomach. Medical attention may bey required.

Conclusion

As an Australian, I have a good understanding of the fact that there is ancient truth held by the Indigenous people of our Land. Respecting cultural memory and acknowledging that for thousands of years wisdom was, and is, passed on from generation to generation is a given.

As much as chokecherries and chokeberries are not native to Australia, the ancient wisdom on Native Americans is tapped into here. It is through this that I find the ability to consume both of these fruits makes the chokecherry vs chokeberry discussion one that is more about understanding the value they add rather than any overtly cautious amplified tones.

However, if you are allergic or have preexisting conditions, you should seek specialist advice from a suitably qualified person first.

References

  1. “Chokecherry” – J. Mionczynski, 4 September 2014 [Native Memory Project] [Archive]
  2. “Prunus Virginiana” – A. Kaesermann, Spring 2013 [RDWay Field Station] [Archive]
  3. “Chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa) and Their Products as a Possible Means for the Prevention and Treatment of Noncommunicable Diseases and Unfavorable Health Effects Due to Exposure to Xenobiotics” – S. Borowska, M. M. Brzóska, 2 August 2016 [Wiley] [Archive]
  4. “Anthocyanins and Their Metabolites as Therapeutic Agents for Neurodegenerative Disease” – A. N. Winter, P. C. Bickford, 22 August 2019 [PubMed] [Archive]
  5. “The emerging role of dark berry polyphenols in human health and nutrition” – J. Higbee, P. Solverson, M. Zhu, F. Carbonero, 15 November 2021 [Wiley]
  6. “Chokeberry – Uses, Side Effects, and More” – WebMD Staff, Last Checked 5 January 2023 [WebMD] [Archive]
  7. “Proanthocyanidin Profile and ORAC Values of Manitoba Berries, Chokecherries, and Seabuckthorn” – F. S. Hosseinian, W. Li, A. W. Hydamaka, A. Tsopmo, L. Lowry, J. Friel, T. Beta, 28 July 2007 [ACS Publications] [Archive]
  8. “Common Buckthorn” – Notional Invasive Species Information Center Staff, Last Checked 5 January 2023 [USDA] [Archive]
  9. “Prunus serotina” – North Carolina State University, Last Checked 5 January 2023 [North Carolina State University] [Archive]
  10. “Bitter Cherry Prunus emarginata” – CalScape Staff, Last Checked 5 January 2023 [CalScape] [Archive]
  11. “American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana L.)” – D. Taylor, Last Reviewed 20 June 2022 [US Forest Service] [Archive]

About the Author

Matthew has been on an active journey towards living a healthy life from a young age. Influenced by his Grandmother, a practicing Naturopath who served her community from the 1940's to the 1980's, his views on living holistically were shaped from a young age. Growing up in different parts of Australia, his connection with the Ocean and a passion for sustainability comes through in everything he does and shares.

"I'm not a Doctor, and I don't play one on the Internet." - me

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