Chokecherry, like cherries in general, is a very valuable food for animals across the food chain. That said, stems, leaves, and seeds contain a chemical that converts into hydrocyanic acid when a stem or leaf is damaged; as when it is gnawed, chewed, and ground in the digestive system. If eaten in large enough quantities this compound can be fatal. Deaths have been noted in livestock, and sadly, children. It is also important to note that the toxicity of stems lessens as they age, as they produce less and less of this chemical later in the season.
Deer, moose, antelope, bear, coyote, sheep, and elk browse the foliage of Chokecherry. Livestock is known to browse Chokecherry, but deaths have been noted in years when a larger sum was eaten due to a shortage of other options. Rabbits gnaw on saplings. Smaller mammals such as squirrels and mice feed on the seeds while larger species including bear, foxes, raccoons, opossums, and skunks eat the fruit.
Many species of birds eat the fruit. It is astringent and rather tart, though it is said to become slightly more palatable as it matures, and is very high in carbohydrates. The fruit matures in early fall, coinciding with a time when many birds are getting ready for migration. These fruits are a solid option to provide birds with the exact type of nutrition that they will need for the long flight south. Quail, turkey, grouse, Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Cedar Waxwings, several species of woodpecker, and many more eat the fruits. The stems and leaves are used in nests.
Many plants of the genus Prunus are utilized by many, many insects. Chokecherry is no exception. This is the larval host to the Columbia Silkmoth and Eastern Swallowtail. The caterpillars of Red-spotted Purple, Coral Hairstreak, Cherry Shoot Borer, and many more feed on the foliage. Tent caterpillars in the Northeast prefer Chokeberry. Native Halictid and Adrenid bees, bumblebees, and flies take nectar and pollen in early spring. Aphids, gall flies, and beetles all feed on Chokecherry.