Aronia plant

Aronia – the small berry that packs a punch

The aronia berry is a versatile fruit. Not only does it contain important nutrients; it can also be used as a dye. Hardly any other fruit is as versatile as this miracle berry.

The aronia berry belongs to the Rosaceae family, which means it isn’t actually a berry in the traditional sense of the word. It’s a pome. If you cut the berries open, you’ll see their similarity to an apple. Their small seeds are arranged symmetrically around the centre.

The aronia berry is still relatively unknown in Germany. Its effect on the human body is said to be a real miracle.

The first signs of the berry’s healing effects were demonstrated over 50 years ago in the former Soviet Union, where numerous studies and clinical trials yielded promising results for a wide range of illnesses and strains.

The aronia plant – properties and features

wilde Aroniabeeren

The aronia is a robust and hardy plant that can easily withstand temperatures of up to -25°C or -30°C. Its wood and buds are highly frost hardy – this robust plant isn’t even affected by sleet and snow.

It’s really easy to care for and ideal for home gardens. Aronia can be planted in a row and cut into a hedge to make a good privacy fence. They can also be planted in a pot to add a bit of green to your balcony or terrace. The aronia is easy to cultivate and can even be planted in school gardens.

Aronia bushes grow to around 2 – 3 m in height and width. Mature bushes of the Viking, Nero, Aron and Hugin varieties can grow up to 1.50 m tall. The Rubina variety can even reach 1.80 m. And the Aronia melanocarpa grows to over 2 m in height.

The aronia tree pictured here on the left is an Aronia melanocarpa from Schwarzenberg, Germany. The owner, Hermann H., planted it in his garden in the 1980s and always cut it back, allowing a standard-sized fruit tree to emerge from the bush.

Standard-sized aronia trees are hard to find in nurseries.

großer Aroniabaum

Leaves

buntes Herbstlaub am Aroniastrauch

Colourful autumn leaves of the aronia bush

The aronia has pointy, egg-shaped leaves with a finely jagged edge. The leaves have a leathery feel and appear between April and May, followed by the first umbels.

They acquire a really beautiful, glowing red tinge in autumn, known as an “Indian summer”.

Flowers

Aronia Blüten im Frühling

The petals of the umbels are pure white in colour. Depending on the aronia variety, these umbels can consist of 10-30 individual flowers. The flowering period lasts around 10 days, and each flower only blossoms for 5 days. The flowers give off a distinctive scent similar to that of the rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia).

The chokeberry is self-fertile: Its flowers can pollinate themselves. Of course, pollination can also be done by bees and other insects. That’s why aronia can also be used as a bee pasture.

Aronia berries

Aronia Wirkung

The ripe fruits can be eaten in autumn. Depending on the aronia variety, they have a red to deep blue colour. The umbels usually hold 10 to 30 spherical fruits that can grow up to 6 – 13 mm in size. The fruit juice leaves a dark red stain. The aronia’s taste can be described as slightly bitter-sweet and astringent.

Each bush can bear fruit for up to 20 years.

Appearance of aronia berries

Aroniabeere Fruchtfleisch

Aronia berries look very much like the fruit of the rowan tree. Slightly rounded fruits with a purplish black hue emerge from the umbels. Depending on the variety, up to 30 small pomes can hang from each umbel. Aronia berries measure 6 – 13.5 mm in diameter and weigh 1.0 – 1.5 g each (Friedrich, Schuricht 1985).

At first, the fruit is covered in a whitish layer of wax. Once this layer is removed, they look as though they’re covered in varnish.

When the fruit is cut open, it resembles a small apple. These small pomes don’t have a core or stone cells. Their seeds are only small (Friedrich, Schuricht 1985). The flesh of the fruit has a deep red colour. The darker the flesh is, the riper the fruit. The fruit becomes fully ripe in late August / early September.

Colour of aronia berries

Aroniasaft

The berries have a deep, dark red juice that leaves a strong stain. This is often used as a natural dye. Aronia berries contain more red and blue plant pigments than any other fruit. They protect the plant against diseases and oxidative damages.

The highest concentration of dye can be found in the skin of the aronia berry. Its red skin is left over after juicing and can be used as a valuable pomace to dye food.

This pomace is used for cooking and baking.

When picking and processing aronia berries, you should wear protective clothing and gloves, as the plant dye is incredibly strong.

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