Ivan’s Beauty

(Sorbus aucuparia x Aronia)

Aronia, Mountain Ash and Ivan's Beauty fruit
Fruit comparison: Aronia (dark purple), Mountain Ash (orange) and Ivan’s Beauty (wine red)

Cultivar tested

‘Ivan’s Beauty’

Description and site preference

Type and size – attractive semi-spreading small tree
Hardiness zone – 3-9
Exposure – sun to partial shade
Soil – moist loams
Drainage – moderate to well-drained

Economic factors

Years to harvest – 1-2
Maintenance – little required
Life of planting – 30+ years
Machine harvest potential – minimal
Suitable markets – processing

Ivanb's Beauty in bloom
Ivan’s Beauty in bloom

Notable features

Nutritional highlights – unconfirmed (potentially high in anthocyanins)
Adaptability – very adaptable at test site
Pest issues – few observed (some leaf spotting)
Invasive potential – minimal to none
Environmental benefits – could have value as insectary plant

Integration characteristics

Shared management – high, same as other tree fruits (less pruning required)
Shared equipment – high, in combination with other tree fruits
Shared processing – intermediate, some specialized processing may be required
Co-marketing – intermediate, could share supply chain with other value-added fruit products

Integration potential – low

Probably not economically justified as part of an integrated system unless found to have notable nutritional, ecological or marketing advantages that would improve the economic sustainability of system.

History and background

‘Ivan’s Beauty’ is a recent cross between European mountain ash and chokeberry (aronia) that exhibits traits of both parents. This intergeneric plant was bred by Ivan Michurin, one of Russia’s most famous breeders. It grows as a small tree like its mountain ash parent, but the leaves and fruit resemble that of its aronia parent. The fruit color and tannin content is midway between the two.

The fruit is a beautiful wine red, making it an attractive landscape and wildlife food tree. It is too astringent to be enjoyed fresh but can be used for a juice drink (and other processed food products). There is little published information about the nutritional and nutraceutical contribution of ‘Ivan’s Beauty’, but it is potentially similar to its parents.

Observations at Carandale Farm

Carandale Farm ordered five ‘Ivan’s Beauty’ trees form Northwoods Nursery (see One Green World) in 2003.

  • The trees transplanted and adapted very well.
  • They were precocious and started blooming the year after being transplanted.
  • The trees have shown some leaf spotting, but otherwise appear vigorous and well adapted.
  • They are planted in the midst of other species (quince, mountain ash and shipova) that have died from fire blight but have not shown symptoms of this destructive bacterial disease.
  • Ivan’s Beauty’ is an attractive, semi-spreading tree.
  • Fruiting has been consistent, but yields have been variable.
  • The fruit is less astringent than its mountain ash parent, but more astringent that its aronia parent.
  • Fruit color is wine red with a purple hue.


There is a possibility that trees in the Carandale test plot are mislabeled. Fruit color does not seem to match the catalog description. Northwoods Nursery also sells ‘Ivan’s Belle’, which is described as “wine red.” ‘Ivan’s Belle’, which is another intergeneric hybrid from Ivan Michurin’s breeding program, is a cross between mountain ash and hawthorne. Regardless of actual pedigree, the following discussion is based on specimens in the test plot.

The trees seem to be well adapted to site conditions. These specimens are winter hardy and appear to be resistant to fire blight. They flower consistently and are quite freeze resistant. They even had a small crop of fruit in 2012 when the majority of the species in the test plot were severely damaged by spring freezes.

Fruit set can be somewhat variable, suggesting only moderate self-fruitfulness. Despite catalog claims to the contrary, it is not a fruit that would be enjoyed eaten fresh. The fruit has similar characteristics to that of aronia (only more astringent) and could probably be used for many of the same purposes. Be wary of any catalog description that says fruit “is or can be” eaten fresh. This is usually code for “it’s palatable, but not necessarily enjoyable in the raw state.”

The fruit trees in the test plot (ordered as ‘Ivan’s Beauty’) could be a good alternative to aronia if a tree form is preferred. For most practical purposes however, shrubs and bush fruit would be better companion crops in an integrated cropping system. They are easier to manage and harvest mechanically. Another disadvantage to ‘Ivan’s Beauty’ is that it does not seem to be consistently self-fertile and the yields per unit area are not comparable to aronia.

This small tree meets nearly all Carandale requirements for adaptability. It would be an attractive landscape tree with virtually no risk of invasiveness. Unless the fruit is found to have some unique or outstanding nutritional value, it would probably not be economically justified as a stand-alone fruit crop. Unless it is found to have a significant contribution (such as being an outstanding insectory plant or dynamic accumulator), it would not be an economically justified addition to an integrated cropping system.


dig the dirt: Ivan’s Beauty

Comments are closed.