Chokecherry Vs Buckthorn (Detailed Comparison)

Chokecherry and buckthorn are two similar-looking plants. It’s almost hard to distinguish them from each other at a glance.

So, how to differentiate between chokecherry vs buckthorn?

Buckthorn trees are usually 6 meters in height where chokecherries can be even larger. To be more sure of the identification, check the flower and fruits of both plants. Buckthorn fruits have one seed whereas chokecherry has multiple. Buckthorn flower is four-petaled while chokecherry has five-petaled flowers.

That was only a part of the whole discussion. To learn more differences between them, you’ve to read our piece till the end.

So, let’s continue.

Short Comparison Between Chokecherry Vs Buckthorn

Before we start, it’s important to know about the plants in short. So, let’s take a look at the short comparison between buckthorn and chokecherry-

Appearance6 meters in height.Usually 6 meters in height. But can grow up to 9 meters.
FruitNot edible and has harmful substances.Edible.
Fruit Seed Has multiple seeds in the fruitHas only one seed in the fruit.
Leaves The color stays dark green all the time.Color converts from dark green to yellow in autumn.
Flower Has four-petaled, inconspicuous flowers. Appears from May to JuneHas five-petaled showy, fragrant flowers. Appears from April to July.
BarkHas thorns. The color turns brown to gray as it ages.Color varies from brown to reddish-gray and noticeably furrowed.

Detailed Comparison Between Chokecherry Vs Buckthorn

chokecherry vs buckthorn

You’ve seen the short comparisons of both of the trees. Now, let’s move on to the detailed comparison between both-

1. Appearance 

When we say buckthorn it usually refers to the common or European buckthorn. They are small deciduous trees that can grow up to six meters. 

They create dense thickets and become a nuisance for yards and roadsides. 

Chokecherry is a multi-stemmed shrub that has a similar appearance to European buckthorn. They usually grow up to 6 meters. But with proper care, they can even grow up to 9 meters. 

They are found in Canada and the northern states of America. Chokecherries are known for making tart, jam, and jellies.

2. Fruits

European or common buckthorn fruit is small and round in shape. The color conversion goes from green to blackish purple when ripen. 

The buckthorn fruits are only produced by female plants. But they have a greater germination rate. Unripe buckthorn fruits contain emodin, which has a laxative effect.

Buckhorn fruits are not edible. Moreover, buckhorn trees’ fruit, root, and bark are toxic. Although they’re not edible, they’re used for other purposes. 

These are the products we get from buckthorn-

If you like any of these, feel free to purchase them. 

Now, chokecherry produces small berries that are called drupes. It’s edible but extremely bitter in taste when consumed raw, especially when it’s unripe. 

Chokecherries can be black, red, and purple in color when they are ripe. Other than the fruit, any other part of the chokecherry tree is toxic. The seeds, leaves, and stems are not to be eaten. 

These are the common products we get from chokecherries-

Feel free to purchase any of these!

A way to distinguish between buckthorn berry and chokecherry is to observe the seeds. Just look for the seeds inside the fruit. 

You’ll see buckthorn usually has multiple seeds per berry. But chokecherry only has one seed in the fruit. 

3. Leaves

Buckthorn leaves are dark green in color even in fall. They are oval and have toothed margins. Each leaf is 1 to 2 ½ inches long. It contains 3 to 5 pairs of distinguished leaf vines. 

The vines reach up to the tip of the leaves. The leaves look almost alternate but some might appear opposite.

Chokecherry leaves are dark green and glossy in the upper part. The beneath of the leaves have a paler color. The leaves are oval to broadly elliptical in shape. 

Each leaf grows up to 4 inches long and almost 2 inches wide. They turn yellow during the fall.

4. Flowers

Common buckthorns have four-petaled flowers that are green-yellow in color. The petals are clustered in the axils of leaves along the stem. 

They are arranged at sub-opposite positions. It also has tiny thorns at the end of the stem. 

Male and female flowers are born to separate shrubs. The flower appears in May and June. 

Chokecherry flowers appear before the leaves are fully grown. The flower is white in color with a ring of orange-yellow center. 

They are 2 to 4 inches long and 0.6 to 1 inches wide. Each flower contains five petals that are round in shape. The flowers start to appear from April to July and fruit comes 2-3 months later.

Moreover, buckthorn flowers are inconspicuous. But chokecherry flowers are showy and fragrant.

5. Bark

Common buckthorn twigs have thorns at the tip between the terminal buds. The branches have light-color vertical dotted marks. 

The bark turns brown to gray and peels as it ages. The inner bark is orange in color. The twigs often end in ⅕-9/10” long sharp spines.

Although their bark is toxic, it has other uses for its sturdy nature. These are the products we get from buckthorn barks-

Now, the Chokecherry tree’s bark is smooth and varies in color. The color varies from brown to reddish-gray. 

As the bark grows old it turns brownish-black and noticeably furrowed. Sometimes you’ll find shallow fine ridges running parallel to the tree’s trunk.

That was all the difference! Hopefully, now you can distinguish between two plants easily.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How to distinguish between a black cherry tree and chokecherry?

Answer: Blackcherry trees grow up to 60 feet where chokecherry is 10-15 feet in height. Black cherry leaves are narrow and pointy where chokecherry leaves are pointy and elliptical.

Question: What happens if someone eats buckthorn berries?

Answer: Buckthorn berries are poisonous and should not be eaten. But if someone eats them they can suffer from severe cramps and diarrhea. It’s also harmful to animals.

Question: Should buckthorn be removed?

Answer: If you see a larger life station of buckthorns near your area, it should be removed. The best time to remove them is in early spring. Because any other tree other than buckthorn is left without leaves.

End Note

That was all from our side regarding chokecherry vs buckthorn. Hopefully, now you can distinguish between both of them. Always be careful of poisonous parts of such plants.

See you next time!

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