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Cornelia-Cherry Cornus mas

Previously known as:

  • Cornus erythrocarpa
  • Cornus flava
  • Cornus mascula
  • Cornus vernalis
Phonetic Spelling
KOR-nus mass
Description

The cornelian cherry dogwood is a deciduous shrub or small tree that can grow up to 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Its yellow flowers appear in early spring before the leaves emerge. Red fruits develop and mature in the mid-summer. On mature trees, the bark is scaly and exfoliating. The plant has excellent resistance to dogwood anthracnose and the dogwood borer.

The shrub or small tree is native to central and southern Europe as well as western Asia. 

The genus name, Cornus, is Latin from the word cornu, which means "horn." This references the hardness of the wood. The species name, mas, is Latin for the word "male." This refers to the possible absence of fruits on new plants for several years. The common name refers to the bright red fruits that resemble the gemstone, Carnelian.

The cornelian cherry dogwood prefers full to partial shade, and moist, well-drained rich soils. The plant produces suckers that need to be promptly removed to control its spread. It may be propagated by semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings and grafting. The plant is tough, adaptable, and is low maintenance.

In late winter to early spring the bright small clusters of yellow flowers appear on the naked branches. The leaves are medium green and appear in the late spring to summer followed by dark red fruits that ripen mid-summer. The fall foliage is usually only a mix of green and yellow colors and occasionally reddish-purple.

The cornelian cherry dogwood has been recognized for its landscape appeal, winter hardiness, and pest resistance by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. This late winter and early spring bloomer would add color and interest to the landscape. Consider this plant for a shrub border, hedge, or screen. It may also be used in naturalized and woodland settings. 

Seasons of interest:

Foliage: late spring to summer       Bloom: late winter to early spring          Fruit:  mid-summer   Bark:  winter

Quick ID HInts:

  • exfoliating bark
  • yellow flowers in the late March or early April
  • dark green, glossy leaves
  • red olive-shaped fruits in mid-summer
  • fall foliage is a mix of green and yellow with some reddish-purple color

Seasons of Interest:

   Foliage: Fall    Bloom: Summer, early   Fruit: Summer-Fall, red berries  Bark: Winter

Insects, Diseases, and Other Problems:  The plant has very few serious diseases or pests problems.  Calico scale, dogwood sawfly, Japanese maple scale, leafhoppers, oyster shell scale, leaf and flower blight (botrytis), crown canker, bacterial leaf scorch, powdery mildew, and septoria leaf spot can occur.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    white fruit
  • 'Aureo-Elegantissima''
    leaves bordered in yellow, green, and pink
  • 'Elegantissima'
    leaves have yellow, green, and pink margins, yellow flowers, red fruits
  • 'Flava'
    yellow fruits
  • 'Fructu Violaceo'
    purple fruits
  • 'Golden Glory'
    dark green leaves, dense, and upright
  • 'JFS PN4Legacy' Saffron Sentinel
    Upright growth habit
  • 'Macrocarpa'
    larger fruits
  • 'Nana'
    dwarf, 3 feet all
  • 'Spring Glow'
    more suited for southern climates
  • 'Variegata'
    variegated leaves
  • 'Xanthocarpa'
    yellow fruits
'Alba', 'Aureo-Elegantissima'', 'Elegantissima', 'Flava', 'Fructu Violaceo', 'Golden Glory', 'JFS PN4Legacy' Saffron Sentinel, 'Macrocarpa', 'Nana', 'Spring Glow', 'Variegata', 'Xanthocarpa'
Tags:
#deciduous#small tree#interesting bark#specimen#wildlife plant#yellow flowers#nectar plant#cover plant#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#flowering tree#year-round interest#hedges#specialized bees#large shrub#flowering shrub#deer resistant#children's garden#foundation planting#red fruits#playground plant#edible fruits#border planting#screening#nesting sites#flowers early spring#exfoliating bark#bird friendly#bee friendly#woodland garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    white fruit
  • 'Aureo-Elegantissima''
    leaves bordered in yellow, green, and pink
  • 'Elegantissima'
    leaves have yellow, green, and pink margins, yellow flowers, red fruits
  • 'Flava'
    yellow fruits
  • 'Fructu Violaceo'
    purple fruits
  • 'Golden Glory'
    dark green leaves, dense, and upright
  • 'JFS PN4Legacy' Saffron Sentinel
    Upright growth habit
  • 'Macrocarpa'
    larger fruits
  • 'Nana'
    dwarf, 3 feet all
  • 'Spring Glow'
    more suited for southern climates
  • 'Variegata'
    variegated leaves
  • 'Xanthocarpa'
    yellow fruits
'Alba', 'Aureo-Elegantissima'', 'Elegantissima', 'Flava', 'Fructu Violaceo', 'Golden Glory', 'JFS PN4Legacy' Saffron Sentinel, 'Macrocarpa', 'Nana', 'Spring Glow', 'Variegata', 'Xanthocarpa'
Tags:
#deciduous#small tree#interesting bark#specimen#wildlife plant#yellow flowers#nectar plant#cover plant#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#flowering tree#year-round interest#hedges#specialized bees#large shrub#flowering shrub#deer resistant#children's garden#foundation planting#red fruits#playground plant#edible fruits#border planting#screening#nesting sites#flowers early spring#exfoliating bark#bird friendly#bee friendly#woodland garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cornus
    Species:
    mas
    Family:
    Cornaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Grafting
    Root Cutting
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Southern Europe and Western Asia
    Distribution:
    Native: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslavakia, East Agean Island, France Germany, Hungry, Italy, Krym, Lebanon-Syria, North Caucasus, Romania, Switzerland, Transcaucasus, Turkey, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia; Introduced: Great Britain, USA-IL, NY, and PA
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are a food source to birds and squirrels and plants provide nesting sites.  Members of the genus Cornus support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Gonandrena) fragilis, Andrena (Gonandrena) integra, and Andrena (Gonandrena) platyparia. The leaves and twigs are a food source for deer.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Has excellent dogwood borer and anthracnose resistance.
    Edibility:
    Fruits are edible and may be used to make a tart jelly.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Horizontal
    Multi-trunked
    Oval
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are olive-shaped drupes that measure 0.5 inches to 1 inch long and 0.5 inches wide. They develop their color in mid-summer and may be eaten when the fruit turns dark red.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Umbel
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    The flowers bloom from late March to early April. The small yellow flowers appear in clusters.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Insignificant
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves appear dark green, glossy, opposite, and simple. They measure 2 to 4 inches long and 0.75 to 1.5 inches wide. The margins are entire. The fall foliage color is a mixture of yellows and greens with reddish-purple highlights
  • Bark:
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Ridges
    Shaggy
    Bark Description:
    Exfoliating flaky and scaly, rough
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Recreational Play Area
    Small Space
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer