In early September, I added another wild fruit to my life list. I was walking a familiar trail, apparently at a new time of year, when the fruit-filled branches of Purple Chokeberry (Aronia floribunda) caught my attention.
This species was once thought to be a hybrid found where the ranges of Red (A. arbutifolia) and Black Chokeberry (A. melanocarpa) overlap, but an updated taxonomy says that Purple Chokeberry is its own species. The leaves of Purple Chokeberry are quite hairy on the undersides (unlike Black Chokeberry), and the leaves don't turn bright red in fall (like Red Chokeberry).
Despite their common name and the opinion of many foraging authors that the fruit are not worth eating fresh, I enjoyed eating a handful of them raw. The fruit had a pleasing flavor and were initially juicy, though they did leave my mouth feeling a bit dry. An alternative to fresh eating is to cold press or cook berries to extract their exceedingly antioxidant-rich juice.