The Cornelian Cherry is a species of dogwood that has tiny, bright yellow flowers that profusely cover the twigs in the late winter and early spring. It is one of the earliest trees to bloom in the winter and it is a harbinger of spring. The flowers are in small clusters on the twigs. They stand out against the bare branches of other trees in the winter landscape. It is a deciduous shrub or small tree with a broad, rounded form and spreading branches. It has a short, leaning stem and scaly, exfoliating bark. Cornus mas is native to central and southern Europe into western Asia. It typically grows over time to 15-25' tall with a spread to 12-20' wide. Yellow flowers on short stalks bloom in early spring before the leaves emerge in dense, showy, rounded clusters (umbels to 3/4" wide). Each umbel is surrounded at the base by small, yellowish, petaloid bracts. Ovate to elliptic dark green leaves (to 4" long) typically develop insignificant fall color. Fruits are ellipsoid, fleshy, one-seeded berries (drupes to 5/8" long) which mature to cherry red in mid-summer. Fruits are edible. They are used for making syrups and preserves. The common name refers to the cherry-like fruits which resemble in color the semi-precious gemstone carnelian (or cornelian).
Cornus mas is noted for having excellent resistance to dogwood anthracnose and dogwood borer. When properly grown, this dogwood usually has few insect or disease problems. Garden Uses. Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, organically rich soils. Promptly remove root suckers to control spread. Valued for its very early spring bloom. Best as a hedge, screen or foundation plant or as a specimen or grouping in the shrub border. Hardy in zones 4-8.
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year.
- Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 3-4 months.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Fill a pot with a mixture of half potting soil and half sand or vermiculite.
- Sow the seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the container.
- Put the pot in a warm, sunny area.
- Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet.
- The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.