Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
Description: Flowers in late March and early April in southern New England. While its individual, yellow flowers are tiny, the tree covers itself with them long before the leaves emerge, creating a wonderful display to chase away the winter doldrums. A dark background of evergreens or a building enhances the yellow flower display.
It reaches a maximum height of 20-25′ by 15′-20′ in width. It can be grown as a single-stemmed tree or multi-stemmed shrub. Cornus mas is quite tolerant of soil types but prefers a rich, well-drained soil in a sunny or partially shaded position. Pests rarely bother this tree.
This dogwood also has interesting exfoliating bark on mature specimens–a fine winter feature–and good quality foliage throughout the summer. Although hidden under the leaves, an added bonus is the small red fruits that ripen in the late summer and early fall. They are rather astringent to taste unless absolutely ripe. Squirrels and birds relish them. Best fruiting is obtained if more than one specimen is in the area.
The cornelian cherry dogwood is native to central and southern Europe and western Asia. Several fine cultivars are available, including ‘Golden Glory,’ with heavier flowering and fruit set, ‘Aurea’ with golden yellow leaves and ‘Variegata’ with green and white variegated leaves. Cornus mas is hardy to Zone 4.
- Type/habit: Large shrub or small tree
- Key season and features of interest: Showy yellow flowers in early spring before leaves emerge, bright red fruit olive-shaped in June and July; scaly, exfoliating bark
- Flowering period: March-April
- Evergreen or deciduous: Deciduous
- Native? No
- Pollinator plant: Attracts insect pollinators
- Wildlife benefits: Fruit is food source for birds and squirrels
- Site/Condition tolerance: Alkaline, acidic, clay soil, drought
- Sun/Shade preference: Full sun to part shade
- Soil condition preference: Moist, fertile, well-drained soil
- Easy to grow and relatively pest resistant
Growth Habit: Suckering shrub that will colonize; can be grown as rounded tree
Size (mature height and spread): 20- 25’ tall by 15-20’ wide
Hardiness (USDA Zones): 4-8
Nativity: Central and Southern Europe, Western Asia
Suggested Uses: Hedge, border, specimen, container
Year of award: 1999