While growing up along Medicine Creek in the middle of South Dakota, most late summer days you could find me out exploring with Smokey, our Yellow Lab. This time of year the bushes by the grain bins to the north of the house would be full of what we called Chokecherries. It wasn't until this week I found out there were also Chokeberries and as it turns out there is a difference. 

Here's what I thought we were eating. Chokecherries. Kind of sour, yet kind of sweet. The neighbors would come by and pick buckets and make Chokecherry Jelly. My Grandma Minnie also made an impressive jelly with the berries. Fast forward to 2018 and my wife brings home a jar of what she was told was ChokeBERRY jelly. I told her I though it was cherry and decided to GOOGLE it up.

Black chokeberry is one of the common names for Aronia melanocarpa.  The name “chokeberry” can easily be misunderstood or misread as the word “chokecherry.”  Chokecherry is the common name for a different plant --   In fact, the two plants are only distantly related within the Rosaceae or rose family of plants.  These two species have some similarities but many differences.  For example, chokecherry has toxicityissues but chokeberry does not.

I tried the jelly this morning before work. It was darn good, but tasted like what I thought was chokecherry jelly. Maybe someone out there can set me straight. Was I eating chokecherries growing up, or was I actually eating chokeberries and didn't know the difference? If you can straighten things out for me I'd love to hear from you.

You can reach me by email. jdcollins@kikn.com. By the way, share this with your jam making relatives and get the Chokeberry, Chokecherry debate started at your place!

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