Aronia – Chokeberry

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Scientific Name: Aronia melanocarpa Prunif.Nero – Prunif.Viking

Family: Rosaceae

Common Name: Aronia (black chokeberry)

Description

The Aronia (Aronia melanocarpa), (Black Chokeberry) is a very important and valuable medical plant. From the very beginning it was cultivated in Eastern North America and North Canada. Its cultivation in Europe started after the 2nd World War as long as its medical value has been recognized. The Aronia holds the leading positions in international scale of medical plants.

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Health Benefits

50 ml of Aronia juice 3 times a day drops blood pressure (clinical tests).

Reduces the possibility of heart attack and protects of heart disease problems.

Reduces the possibility of cancer.

Large source of antioxides.

Relaxes the muscles after hard work activity.

Has anti-inflammatory properties.

Fights the bacteria that cause flu.

Strengthens the memory.

Relieves from bronchitis.

Morphology

Aronia is a vivacious deciduous shrub with woody stem. Its height is 1 to 3 meters, it has extensive root system and minor needs as cultivation. It is hardy (<-25ºC) and sunfast (>42ºC). The plant grows 30 to 40 cm per year and its lifetime is long (100 years). The roots, except for the central root are superficial and thin, while it develops suckers and it’s easily transplanted.
In some countries, such as Greece, the fruit’s maturation is earlier and more specifically from August to September.

Aronia in International Market

Aronia as mentioned above, was introduced from America to Eastern Europe before the 2nd World War and its first use was as an ornamental plant. In the subsequent period it was used as a medical plant from the countries of the Soviet Union. Since 1974, 54,000 acres were planted in Eastern Europe, whereof 40,000 acres were planted in areas with cold climate (Siberia). Their production intended for juice production and pharmaceuticals, since from the outset it was known that the fruits of Aronia are rich in nutrients such as anthocyanins, phenols, catechins are flanovoles etc.

Economic Importance

Aronia’s economic importance is high because the cultivation’s cost is low and the producer can have income by the third year of cultivation. It is an organic cultivation, so there is not any cost for pesticides.

Cultivation techniques

Before planting, organic nutrients should be incorporated in the soil. For plantation’s installation the soil should be stirred with hoes and then holes of 50 cm depth should be drilled (in 3 years old plants) depending on the planting distance. It should be noted that it is preferable to place plants 1 year old because the 3-year plants develop slower which affects the production and quality. The planting is linear and the planting distances per acre are 4.00 m x 2,50 – 3,00 m i.e. 100-120 plants. Planting takes place in the Fall and early Spring. It can be grown widely in different climates (wet – dry) and in well-drained slightly silty soils. It needs sun but it can grow in shaded environments. Aronia is resistant to low temperatures (- 25°C) and needs some attention at very high temperatures (+45 °C). Particular attention should be given to irrigation, especially during the first three years after the planting season, in flowering and in any case before harvesting. In conditions with altitude above 300 meters, it is watered by flooding three times during the year. Aronia’s water needs are 25 liters per year. It needs pruning so as the plant grows in brighter and ventilated conditions. That helps to ripen faster and better. Piles can be used to support plants.

Fertilization is not necessary because it is an organic cultivation in general, but the enrichment with organic material (zeolite, mycorrhizae, microorganisms) is recommended in order to improve the quality of the fruits and to increase the production. The pests which affect the Aronia plant is the beetle ¨tropinota hirt ¨ during the flowering. Prevention by adding zeolite in the cultivation is the best way to tackle. According to scientific bibliography the plant has high resistance to natural enemies.

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Harvesting and Processing

Aronia can be harvested both manually and mechanically. The ripening lasts 2 to 4 weeks and the only harvesting criterion is the measurement of fruit’s sugars. The Aronia should be harvested in one week because it matures quickly. A person manually picks about 80 to 90 kilos per day. The fruit for sale is kept fresh in refrigerator (2 ° C ) up to three months or kept in freezers for long periods and is sold as frozen. The fruits after drainage can be sold as raisins or processed into marketable products of high added value and economic importance such as, jams, juices, syrup and wine. Considerable economic benefit has the alteration of its fruit extracts in pharmaceutical substances for the fighting off many diseases. A typical example is the legendary cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who had used formulations of Aronia for his protection from cosmic and radioactive radiation of the space.

Uses-Products

Aronia is a very delicious and edible fruit due to its precious nutrients (pectin). It is used in jams, juices, liqueurs and wine. The fruit is used in the pharmaceutical industry because it contains Vitamin C at very high levels (15-30mg at 100gr) and a wealth of vitamins A, B1 , B2 , B3 , B6 , B9 , C , K , P. It has been proven that the fruit prevents from radiation and removes toxicity from liver and nervous system caused by the accumulation of cadmium. It is considered valuable for its medical properties due to its high content of vital polyphenols (5 times more than grapes). It has powerful antioxidants which contain histamines, serotonins, polyphenols and used to prevent heart disease, to produce good cholesterol and to fight diabetes, viruses and germs. It stabilizes the blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, fights inflammation of the urinary system, has anti-aging properties and helps in memory improvement. In Russia, it is used as a diuretic, because it increases the excretion of urine, but also as a drug for the reduction of high blood pressure and in dermatology. It also contains nutrients that are considered as anti-cancer, especially for colon cancer. In Germany, its consumption is recommended by many researchers for preventing various diseases. In pharmacies various formulations of Aronia are sold such as capsules, drops, etc. Its fruits and juice strengthen the immune system.

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Aronia Dried Berries

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Aronia Powder