Cornelian Cherry has similar leaves and the same red fall color as the popular dogwood. It is a large, round bush up to 20' tall. Fruit is about 3/4" x 1/2" and plentiful on the tree, ripening in August. A few days after picking, fruits become soft and have a great, fresh taste, reminiscent of canned cranberry sauce. The yellow blossoms on naked gray branches rival witch hazel in beauty. Blooming in the late winter or very early in the springtime with daffodil. Needs a mate for fruit. Space 20 feet Zones 4-7.
Dogwood Cornus Mas blooming in the snow
Cornelian Cherry Blooms
|Wet Soil Tolerance
|Fresh for Kids
Dogwood Care Guide
The Cornelian cherry can be trained as a tree, gaining a height of over 26' and a width exceeding 20'. Growing quickly for the first 25 years, it adds a foot or more I height every season. One of the first trees to bloom in northern climates, it covers itself with small gold-yellow flowers on older wood that hang on for two months starting in late January or early February. The bark is particularly attractive, presenting a highly textured gray through velvety, sable-brown appearance throughout the year; striking, especially in winter. Its verdant spring and summer aspect becomes quite colorful with the appearance of fairly large oblong, cherry-like fruit that ripen to a scarlet, then to a deeper, purple-red shade in late August through September. The fruit varies in size and shape among different varieties, from 3/4" to over 1.5" length. In October, the leaves begin their color change to scarlet's and purples, sometimes hanging on the branches
till mid-December. It is an extremely hardy tree originating in middle, southern and eastern Europe, ranging from the Balkan mountains to Russia, as well as Asia Minor, Armenia and the Caucases. In the wild, its distribution is quite unequal, being tied to the nature of the soil,
favoring above all dry, alkaline soils. In the United States it is found primarily in the east having been brought from Europe in the last century or perhaps even earlier.
The reading of some property titles where it was used as a boundary, indicates a great longevity of more than 1,000 years. If cut or burned, it seems to always regenerate from the roots. Today, in eastern Europe (the Balkans, Soviet Union, and Poland) is still cultivated for its fruit. In western Europe I have seen it in many different places, along railways and in evidence at great estates and palaces where it was occasionally also used to form a "tunnel". In both east and west it is frequently encountered as a "living fence" or windbreak.
The best way to harvest is to gently shake the branches when the fruit has colored at the end of August. All fruit that fall should be washed in cold water, dried and preserved or frozen that day or eaten fresh, slightly chilled 12 to 24 hours later. The shaking of branches should be repeated about twice a week until all the fruit has been gathered by early October. If allowed to overipen on the tree, the flavor becomes concentrated, sweet and aromatic.
The pruning and training of Cornus mas is much the same as that for other spring-flowering trees and shrubs. Just after the flowers begin to fade and drop, immediately prior to leafing out, is the best to carry out this procedure. Light summer pruning is also helpful. Planting also follows standard practice - a big, well dug planting hole to start with followed by a 4' watering basin, covered with 2" of mulch. An 8" ring of rocks surrounding the crown (which should be slightly above grade) assists in keeping the mulch well away from the trunk of the tree. The trunk benefits from being painted with white reflective paint (water base Latex) or better yet, covered with the flexible, plastic tree wrap.
Spacing between trees not grown as a hedge can be as close as 18' to 20'. If a small orchard is contemplated, 20' in and 28' between rows seems adequate.