SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Grants available to help choke off chokecherry trees in Alaska


March 07, 2021
Sunday PM

(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - Once considered pretty, fragrant ornamental trees, chokecherry trees across Alaska are now the target of a widespread control effort aimed at reducing the impact of these prolific flowering trees because of the threat they pose to moose, salmon and native plant species.

The USDA Forest Service and the Alaska Division of Forestry are offering grants to local governments and non-profit organizations to remove two types of invasive chokecherry trees from Alaska.

jpg Grants available to help choke off chokecherry trees in Alaska

Chokecherry tree
Courtesy Alaska DNR

Both Prunus padus, commonly known as European bird cherry (EBC), chokecherry, or mayday trees, and Prunus virginiana, commonly known as Canadian red, or chokecherry, were originally introduced in Alaska as attractive, ornamental trees.

However, each has since been deemed an invasive species with the potential to significantly affect native ecosystems in Alaska.

“While chokecherry trees are a springtime favorite of many Alaskans for their beautiful and aromatic blossoms, they are becoming what some ecologists call ‘rogue ornamentals,’ “said Jim Renkert, manager of the Division’s Community Forestry Program. “The pretty tree in our yards has gone feral in Alaska greenbelts and parks. In many areas it is aggressively outcompeting our native species and changing the habitat.”

Now rapidly invading riparian and natural forest areas in Fairbanks, the Matanuska- Susitna Borough, the Municipality of Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, and Juneau, Prunus padusis especially aggressive and poses several different hazards:

  • Prunus padus can take over the understory of forests, and form thickets where native plants once grew.
  • There are documented cases of moose dying of cyanide poisoning from consuming Prunus padus.
  • Future salmon populations may be smaller due to increasing streamside growth of Prunus padus, which produces less of the insect biomass that falls into water to provide food for juvenile salmon.

The grants are offered to help recipients identify and remove prominent stands of these two Prunus species from Alaska, and to train additional certified pesticide management consultants and applicators.

Approximately $200,000 is available in grants of up to $25,000 each. Grants will be awarded to applicants with knowledge and commitment to removing Prunus species from their communities. The application deadline is April 9, 2021.

Additional information is available in the request for proposals and grant application forms at



Edited By Mary Kauffman, SitNews

Source of News:

Alaska Dept of Natural Resources

Representations of fact and opinions in comments posted are solely those of the individual posters and do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.

Send a letter to the

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2021
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

 Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews are considered protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper freelance writers and subscription services.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.