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Cornelian Cherry- Cornus mas is a Dogwood with edible fruit. It has been grown in Eastern Europe for thousands of years. It blooms very early, February in the south- March in the north, so its abundance of flowers are a welcome pollen and nectar source for early foraging bees. Flowers are available for about 3 weeks.
Cornelian Cherry is a small tree like all dogwoods reaching 20′ to 25′ at maturity. It is long lived for a small tree and can survive and thrive to an age of 150 years. It is hardy in zones 4 to 8.
The bright red fruit varies in size from small to selected varieties that are about 5/8″ long and 1/2″ wide. The fruit is red long before it is truly ripe. Ripe fruit will be soft and will fall from the tree with no resistance. The fruit is tart fresh from the tree but in the Black Sea region from Turkey and Greece north to Siberia it is cherished for the luscious floral sweet syrups, confections and drinks that are part of the culinary traditions there.
The fruit is considered medicinal. The likely benefit is its high vitamin C content. Traditional Chinese and Korean medicine uses it to treat kidney problems not unlike our use of the similarly tart cranberry juice.
The healthy dark green foliage makes a good summer screen with showy spring flowers. Fall color is nonexistent. Leaves drop while still green at the first frost.
A good tree with food for us and our bees.