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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  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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

Cornus mas Cornelian Cherry, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood

(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Cornus mas Cornelian Cherry, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
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.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Feb to March, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are 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: acid, neutral and basic (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.

C. mascula.

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].
Medicinal Uses

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Astringent;  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].
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].
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.
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
Found In
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 :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Cornus albaTartarian Dogwood00
Cornus alternifoliaGreen Osier, Alternateleaf dogwood, Alternate Leaf Dogwood, Golden Shadows Pagoda Dogwood, Green Osi02
Cornus amomumSilky Dogwood12
Cornus asperifolia drummondiiRoughleaf Dogwood00
Cornus australis 10
Cornus canadensisCreeping Dogwood, Bunchberry dogwood, Bunchberry42
Cornus capitataBentham's Cornel41
Cornus chinensis 23
Cornus controversaGiant Dogwood, Wedding Cake Tree,21
Cornus coreana 00
Cornus elliptica 41
Cornus floridaFlowering Dogwood22
Cornus hemsleyi 00
Cornus hongkongensis 10
Cornus iberica 20
Cornus kousaJapanese Dogwood, Kousa dogwood, Chinese Dogwood,50
Cornus kousa chinensisJapanese Dogwood50
Cornus macrophyllaLarge-Leaf Dogwood22
Cornus monbeigii 12
Cornus multinervosa 20
Cornus nuttalliiMountain Dogwood, Pacific dogwood, Western Dogwood12
Cornus oblonga 03
Cornus occidentalisWestern Dogwood11
Cornus officinalisShan Zhu Yu, Asiatic dogwood, Japanese Cornel Dogwood43
Cornus poliophylla 12
Cornus quinquenervis 20
Cornus rugosaRound-Leaved Dogwood01
Cornus sanguineaDogwood, Bloodtwig dogwood21
Cornus sericeaRed Osier Dogwood, Western dogwood22
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Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
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.
Elizabeth H.
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

Elizabeth H.
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

Elizabeth H.
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

Elizabeth H.
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
Elizabeth H.
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
Elizabeth H.
Josef Cornelissen Sun Jul 12 2009

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

penny G.
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.
Jose C.
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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Subject : Cornus mas  

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