The Cornelian Cherry

Or as they say in Rome, Cornus mas

Cornelian Cherry Flowers

Cornelian Cherry Flowers

Becky suggested at the last meeting that this pretty tree was a great addition to the garden for spring color. It is a member of the dogwood family. Terri grows them and found these pictures for this story. “This lovely tree is in flower right now in the garden, with soft, fluffy puffs of gold, glowing in the morning sun.  It lights up the woodland garden. It provides an edible feast for the eye, when the oval, deep-red “cherries” are ripe.  Enjoy as a very special preserve at tea time, or a delightful “eye candy” any time.”, says Terri.

Cornelian Cherries

Cornelian Cherries

The Fez

Sultan in a Fez

The fruit looks a bit like ripe coffee berries and have a taste that is a cross between cranberries and sour cherries. These drupes are not true cherries, however. Birds love them. So do folks in the Black Sea area, where the tree originally comes from. They are highly prized for distilling vodka and other spirits. Because they high in vitamin C, the fruit has also been used to ward off colds and flu. The Turks use dyes made from them to color the famous fez.

The tree in full bloom.

The tree in full bloom.

The tree blooms early in the year – sometimes as early is March in zone 6, while the fruit matures later in the summer. They are not fully ripe until they fall from the tree.

Photo credits: E. Horak – Flora.nhm-wien.ac.at

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One thought on “The Cornelian Cherry

  1. This is the shrub that I enthused about at the last club meeting! It is earlier to bloom than forsythia, forces blooms indoors, has fruit the critters love (and we can use!). A great way to plant it is as a specimen focal point with a pool of Scilla siberica at its feet. I have also seen it making a handsome hedge — the brilliant yellow looks fantastic against a blue Spring sky. In my garden the Cornus mas blossoms are just beginning to fade.
    I hope everyone knows about this hardy, versatile, 3 season beauty.

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