Identification Guide for Photinia floribunda, Photinia pyrifolia, and Photinia melanocarpa

Identification Guide for Photinia floribunda

Photinia floribunda is an elusive chokeberry species that is currently conspicuously absent from the native plant nursery trade partly because it is so difficult to find.

Photinia floribunda (purple chokeberry) is a gorgeous native shrub that enjoys moist soils in shade to full sun.  Quite stoloniferous, this species will form fairly large colonies in its ideal soil conditions.  Typically found at slightly higher elevations (500-1000ft) and growing near streams, vernal pools, and wet boggy meadows.  Common associates include sensitive fern, winterberry holly, and highbush blueberry.

Photinia floribunda is quite different from Photinia pyrifolia and Photinia melanocarpa if one is very familiar with the latter two species.  The leaves of purple chokeberry are the shape of red chokeberry yet have a texture and color similar to the black chokeberry, but still quite unique.  The fruits are an obvious purple and smaller than black chokeberries.  Birds will eat the purple chokeberries far earlier in the season than they will eat red chokeberries, which is consistent with their sweeter flesh.

Click here to see the reported range of Photinia floribunda.

For those not very familiar with the Photinia species, or when attempting to find them in the winter, examining the buds reveals their obvious differences.  See the picture below.

ArcheWIld - Photinia red purple black composite fixed
ArcheWIld – Photinia red purple black composite fixed

Photinia floribunda buds are neither bright red nor nearly black; they are a distinct dark purplish-red in the field.  Twigs show pubescence (little hairs) on both red and purple chokeberry, but not black, but hairs are absent from around the bud unlike red chokeberry.  Here is another picture that more accurately represents the color differences.

ArcheWIld - Photinia red purple black
ArcheWIld – Photinia red purple black

Here is a picture of the leaves and fruit.

ArcheWild - Photinia floribunda
ArcheWild – Photinia floribunda

In 2015, we will update this identification guide with more pictures and hopefully of the flowers.

Click here to see the fruit and leaves of Photinia floribunda.