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Cornus mas - L.

Common Name Cornelian Cherry, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
Family Cornaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woodlands, especially in calcareous soils[7, 13].
Range Europe. Naturalized in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Cornus mas Cornelian Cherry, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood

(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Cornus mas Cornelian Cherry, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood


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Bloom Color: Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Early winter, Late winter, Mid spring, Mid winter. Form: Rounded.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Cornus mas is a deciduous Shrub growing to 5 m (16ft) by 5 m (16ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from February to March, and the seeds ripen in September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


C. mascula.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Oil
Edible Uses: Coffee  Oil  Oil

Fruit - raw, dried or used in preserves[2, 3, 7, 9, 13, 183]. Juicy, with a nice acid flavour[11]. The fully ripe fruit has a somewhat plum-like flavour and texture and is very nice eating, but the unripe fruit is rather astringent[K]. It is rather low in pectin and so needs to be used with other fruit when making jam[9]. At one time the fruit was kept in brine and used like olives[183]. The fruit is a reasonable size, up to 15mm long, with a single large seed[K]. A small amount of edible oil can be extracted from the seeds[7]. Seeds are roasted, ground into a powder and used as a coffee substitute[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Astringent  Cholera  Febrifuge  Nutritive

The bark and the fruit are astringent, febrifuge and nutritive[7]. The astringent fruit is a good treatment for bowel complaints and fevers, whilst it is also used in the treatment of cholera[4, 254]. The flowers are used in the treatment of diarrhoea[4].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Dye  Hedge  Hedge  Oil  Oil  Tannin  Wood

An oil is obtained from the seed[7]. A dye is obtained from the bark[3, 7]. No more details are given. Another report says that a red dye is obtained from the plant, but does not say which part of the plant[4]. The leaves are a good source of tannin[7]. Wood - very hard, it is highly valued by turners[7]. The wood is heavier than water and does not float[7]. It is used for tools, machine parts, etc[7, 11, 13, 61].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest  Hedge  Hedge

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Firewood, Pest tolerant, Hedge, Screen, Specimen, Woodland garden. An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any soil of good or moderate fertility[1], ranging from acid to shallow chalk[200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil[108] and a sunny position[15] but also succeeds in light shade[188]. Plants are fairly wind resistant[K]. Plants grow and crop well in pots. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°c[184]. At one time the cornelian cherry was frequently cultivated for its edible fruit, though it has fallen into virtual disuse as a fruit crop in most areas[3]. It is still being cultivated in parts of C. Europe and there are some named varieties[183]. 'Macrocarpa' has larger fruits than the type[182]. 'Nana' is a dwarf form, derived from a yellow-fruited clone[182]. 'Variegata' has been seen on a number of occasions with very large crops of fruit, even in years when the type species has not fruited well[K]. 'Jolico' has well-flavoured fruits 3 times larger than the species. There are also a number of cultivars with yellow, white and purplish fruit. Seedlings can take up to 20 years to come into fruit. Plants produced from cuttings come into fruit when much younger, though they do not live as long as the seedlings. A very ornamental plant[1] it flowers quite early in the year and is a valuable early food for bees[13, 108]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].Special Features:Attracts birds, Not North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 5. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a standard with a non-suckering single trunk [1-2]. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is branching: a heart root, dividing from the crown into several primary roots going down and out [2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed[80, 113]. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors[80, 164]. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 - 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year[164]. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification[80, 164]. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more[164]. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame[188]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage[78]. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months[78].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Robby Bonkowski   Thu Jan 2 23:37:56 2003

Cornus mas is traditionally used together with Eleganus multiflora in traditional Korean and Chinese herbal medicine.

Hristo Hristov   Tue Jul 8 18:31:22 2003

Link: Cornus mas Description, seeds (for swap) and some photos of the Bulgarian cultivars of Cornus mas

Dr.Volodymyr Mezhenskyj   Mon May 31 21:18:09 2004

Cultivars of Cornus mas

Dear Sirs,

from ancient times large-fruited cornelian cherry grow in Ukraine as fruit crop. In the Register of Plant Varieties of the Ukraine included next pomological cultivars: `Bylda`, `Vydubetzkyj`, `Volodymyrskyj`, `Vavilovetz`, `Grenader`, ` Elegantnyj`, `Ekzotycznyj`, `Eugenia`, `Koralovyj Marka`, `Lukjanovskyj`, `Mykolka`, `Olena`, `Radist`, and `Svitljaczok`. Fruits weight 5 to 9 g.

Dr.Volodymyr Mezhenskyj, Artemivsk Research Center of Institution of Horticulture, Opytne, Artemivsk, Donetska obl., 84571 UKRAINE

Dr.Volodymyr Mezhenskyj   Mon May 31 20:36:18 2004

Cultivars of Cornus mas

Dear Sirs,

from ancient times large-fruited cornelian cherry grow in Ukraine as fruit crop. In the Register of Plant Varieties of the Ukraine included next pomological cultivars: `Bylda`, `Vydubetzkyj`, `Volodymyrskyj`, `Vavilovetz`, `Grenader`, ` Elegantnyj`, `Ekzotycznyj`, `Eugenia`, `Koralovyj Marka`, `Lukjanovskyj`, `Mykolka`, `Olena`, `Radist`, and `Svitljaczok`. Fruits weight 5 to 9 g.

Dr.Volodymyr Mezhenskyj, Artemivsk Research Center of Institution of Horticulture, Opytne, Artemivsk, Donetska obl., 84571 UKRAINE

Uli Marggraf   Sat Aug 5 2006

Take the fully ripe fruit, fill in a container together with sugar, so that the fruit is always embedded in the sugar. Stop when container is about 1/3 full, top up with ethyl alcohol (for human consumtion). If necessary, dilute alcohol to 45-50% with water. Close well and put in a cool, dark place. Open after 12 months. You have a delicious liqueur! Uli Marggraf, Costa San Severo 62032 Camerino, Italy

Tim Dumenil   Thu Oct 16 2008

This page is useful. Advise please from someone. My neighbour has a particularly nice tree of this species, and he is seeking permission to reduce the crown by 25%, A) will this damage the tree, and B)will it kill it? Please could someone enlighten me as I would rather it wasn't touched! Regards Tim Dumenil

Josef Cornelissen   Sun Jul 12 2009

Vom Cornelius-Kirschen-Baum Most detailed description of Cornelian cherry in German

   Dec 7 2011 12:00AM

our turkish community are familiar with this fruit. ripe in august in uk, another excellent urban foragers crop. fairly common in parks. make interesting jam and wonderful liqueur. also known as cornels.

Lists it as zone 4 hardy, other sites confirm this.   Apr 3 2013 12:00AM

Numerous sources show this as being hearty to zone 4.

   Mar 24 2014 12:00AM

Highly regarded as a food and medicinal plant by Saint Hildegard. According to her eating the fruit is useful for the digestive tract, and the fresh summer leaves, bark, and small branches in deccotion are beneficial in cases of "gout" used internally and externally in baths (according to author Helmut Posh, for St. Hildegard this includes a whole spectrum of diseases from rheumatism to adenoids). See works by Helmut Posh and Dr. Hertzka.

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