Chokeberry is a very interesting plant that was brought to Europe from the East North America. It was used there first by Native Americans as both food and medicine, and then by settlers from Europe. They used a whole plant for various purposes. The root was used on wounds to stop the bleeding, leaves were used as medicine for diarrhea and for making tea, and the fruit was used for conserving meat and other supplies during winter months.
At the begingig of the 20th century the renown Russian scientist Ivan Michurin crossed chokeberry with other plants. It's global production started after the WWII and it was widely accepted as a medicinal plant with numerous preventative and healing properties. Due to high resistance to frost it spread from Russia to other countries such as Moldova, Ukraine, Finland, Belarus, and Sweden. At first, it was cultivated as a decorative plant, and even received the Royal Gardening Society reward in England in 1972. It is widely known today as a fruit plant in Canada, East part of US, and many European countries. It is a fairly new mass-produced plant in Serbia.
Chokeberry belongs to the genus Sorbus, family Rosaceae. Sorbus melanocarpa Elliot originates from North America (known as chokeberry, and in Russia as rjabina černoploda) and is one of 15 species of the genus Sorbus. Chokeberry is a long-standing woody plant, growing 1-3 meters in height, depending on conditions and it may be pruned to a small tree shape. It can be grown on all soil types, and can tolerate very low temperatures. It does not require special care and given that it is highly resistant to diseases and pests it can be cultivated without a use of pesticides. The leaves are egg shaped, dark green and leathery, with length of up to 8 cm, and width of up to 5 cm.
The leaves are especially beautiful in autumn when they become very red in color. Chokeberry usually blooms in mid May. Flowers only last a week, but belong to the most beautiful flowers of shrubby plants. The fruit is a berry. Mature fruit is a dark red color that turns into black. The average weight of berries is 1 to 1.5 grams and up to 1 cm in diameter. It contains 4-8 very tiny seeds. The fruit ripens in the second half of August. Plant can yield up to 10-15 kg per bush, and it can be productive up to 20 years. The berries are usually picked by hand, while mechanized harvesting is possible on larger plantations.
Multiple use of chokeberry
The chokeberry fruit can be used fresh or processed. The chokeberry juice is especially beneficial for the immune system and general wellbeing. In addition to juice, it can be used for the preparation of tea, jam, jelly, syrup, wine ... It's strong and stable color is used for coloring drinks and wine, while the ground chokeberry is used in baking and confectionery industry. It is a delicious combination with yoghurt, and it is also used in making cocktails. It is used in the pharmaceutical industry for making medications for the treatment of high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, neurological disease, and to improve memory .
Its popularity in recent years is growing, and today chokeberry is recommended by many nutritionists and those who are looking for alternative food supplements. In countries where it is grown on plantations, such as USA, Russia, Poland, and Bulgaria it has been a subject of many studies. Chokeberry attracted the attention of scientists because of its unusually high levels of antioxidants (maximal ORAC value -the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity - a unit for the measurement of antioxidants in foods). The pigment in the skin of berries contains active ingredients anthocyanins that protect the body. Anthocyanins are known to reduce the effects of oxidative stress. Free radicals, which are the main reason for the oxidative stress can be produced internally (metabolism, breathing, etc..) or through external factors (smoking, environmental pollution, car exhaust, alcohol consumption, exposure to radiation and bacterial, fungal and viral infection). It is impossible to totally eliminate free radicals, but knowing their harmful effects, we must do our best to reduce them. In fact, some flavonoids have up to fifty times higher antioxidant value than vitamins C and E and thus act preventively on the occurrence of many diseases. It is interesting that the chokeberry products were used after the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in order to alleviate health problems of the exposed victims. Chokeberry is a treasure chest of mineral elements and vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B6, B9, most vitamin P (important for the flexibility of blood vessels), flavonoids, iron, manganese and others.
improves circulation, cleanses the blood, strengthens the heart
normalizes blood pressure levels
prevents cardiovascular diseases
cleanses body of toxins and heavy metals
assists in the postoperative recovery
helps in the treatment of urinary tract infections
strengthens immunity against bacteria, cold, and conjunctivitis
slows the cell aging process
helps with the control of cholesterol
prevents the fat deposits formation
improves liver function and bile secretion
Chokeberry is considered a medicinally valuable plant based on its high content of nutritional ingredients. Research showed that chokeberry when used in other products (e.g. juice, tea, wine) have a positive effect in treating numerous diseases.