If I were to name our Littleton, Colorado, farm, I would probably choose Chokecherry Farm. These suckering, drought-tolerant shrubs are widespread on our property, growing along borders, fence lines and our man-made structures.
Now festooned with racemes of small white flowers (well ahead of schedule due to our warm winter and spring), the shrubs will produce clusters of black cherries that attract a wide variety of birds and mammals. Though they are a bit sour, chokecherries have long been used by humans to produce jams, sauces, jellies and wine. Unfortunately, the foliage of chokecherries is toxic to ruminants and can be fatal to livestock if consumed in large quantities.
Native to southern Canada and the northern half of the Lower 48 States, the chokecherry is a hardy shrub, able to tolerate both cold winters and hot, dry summers. Here along the Colorado Front Range, where water use must be curtailed, it is a valuable component of the landscape, offering beauty and a natural food source while requiring little maintenance and no irrigation.