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2003 Annual and Perennial Trial Results

August 2006
Plant of the Month

Prunus maackii
Amur chokecherry
zone: 2-8
by Susan Morlock, Law’s Nursery, Inc.

If you are looking for a hardy ornamental tree with year round interest, consider the Amur chokecherry multi-stem (Prunus maackii).  It has many features that make it attractive most of the year.  It flowers late in the spring.

The small flowers are creamy white and grow in drooping clusters.  Summer leaf color can range from golden green to dark glossy green.  The fruit is small, black, appears late summer and is attractive to birds.  Leaves turn yellow in the fall and drop early.  But the outstanding feature of this tree has to be its coppery exfoliating bark.  It has an almost metallic look to it and peels off in papery layers.  This tree really stands out in a winter landscape.

The Amur chokecherry is hardy in zones 2-8 which makes it an excellent tree for northern climates.  The height reached from 20-30 feet‚ and spread is 25-30 feet.  It has a rounded form.  When grown as a multi-stem, it can have anywhere from three to many stems.  It prefers moist, well-drained soil, but can survive in poor soil conditions. There are no major pest problems with this tree.

This tree has been overlooked because its branching structure makes it susceptible to breakage in the wind. It can have very heavy side branches and a small weak leader.  But grown as a multi-stem, the plant does remarkably well. 

It requires some pruning while young to eliminate the stems as they grow prolifically.  It also needs some pruning to remove crossing branches that grow into each other.  But, overall, the pruning required is minimal.  Amur chokecherry also has a reputation of having poor root systems and tipping as a result.  As a multi-stem, the liners we received have had a better root structure and we have not had any problems with tipping.

The Amur chokecherry multi-stem is a fairly fast grower.  In our nursery, starting from a 2-3-inch liner, it can reach 10 feet in 2-3 years.  The tree in the photo is about 15 x 15 feet.  Amur chokecherry multi-stem deserves more attention as a specimen plant in the landscape.  Consider this attractive plant when planning your next landscape project.








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