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Cherry dogwood
50-70 cm (Cornus mas)

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1 Cherry Dogwood: 3 years old - current height 50-70 cm

Common name : Cornelian Cherry, Cherry Dogwood, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
Scientific name : Cornus mas
Family : Cornaceae

Plant history & use:

We [Trädgårdsdags] like to refer to the Cherry Dogwood as Europe's (yellow-coloured) counterpart to Sakura - the Japanese cherry trees, which also bloom on bare branches. Like the cherry trees, the Cherry Dogwood also produces interesting, edible berries that can be used for many things.

The natural distribution of Cherry Dogwood extends from Central and Southeast Europe to Western Asia around the Caucasus, but it has also been successfully planted among others, in Sweden and North America.

The Cherry Dogwood is usually used for its ornamental value early during year. With its abundant flowering on bare twigs in March-April, it is an invigorating sight before much else has had time to bloom. As such, it also provides a valuable early source of nectar and pollen for pollinators. The flowers are small and yellow and sit in clusters.

From the flowers it becomes then olive-shaped red berries that are edible. The berries ripen in late summer or early fall. The fruit is hard, sour and harsh before it is ripe but softens and increases in sweetness as it ripens. Another guide to when the fruit is ripe is to look at the ground - when the fruit starts to fall, it has sweetened. For easier harvesting, you can then shake the branches and then pick up the berries that fall, this because they do not all ripen at the same time. 

The berries described as cranberry/sour cherry/plum taste can be used to make jelly, jam, juice, fruit wine and as a cocktail berry. The kernels can be roasted, ground and then used as a coffee substitute and unripe fruits can be put in and eaten as a substitute for olives. The Cherry Dogwood has long been used in Mediterranean countries and Western Asia precisely for its fruits and the medicinal qualities they are considered to have. The berries contain a high content of vitamin C and the antioxidant anthocyanin, which gives the fruit its color. 

The Cherry Dogwood is self-pollinating, but the harvest can be more abundant if several individuals are planted together.

Cultivation:

The Cherry Dogwood thrives best in full sun to partial shade, but also works well in shadier locations, but then sets fewer berries. 

If it is allowed to grow freely, it will become a wide and full-bodied bush. It is also perfectly possible to stem it into a small tree and the crown can be as wide as the tree can be tall. Free-growing, it becomes multi-stemmed, but it is just as well to choose to keep and stem one of the stems. Cherry Dogwood can also be used as a hedge plant as it responds well to pruning.

Has an upright growing habit, but if the branches become long, their tips may start to point downwards.

The Cherry Dogwood prefers well-drained, nutrient-rich soil and is not picky about pH, although calcareous soil is particularly favorable. The is favored by heat and tolerates drought once it has established itself.

The trunk is grey-brown and the bark of slightly older individuals flakes finely. The Cherry Dogwood is deciduous and the autumn color is a beautiful brown-yellow to reddish-brown.

Characteristics:

Lifespan: Perennial
Location: sun/part shade
Height: 3-6 m
USDA Zone: 1-4