Cornelian Cherry – Cornus mas


Cornus mas

Cornus mas – 03/07/14 Photo taken  Amy Robson

This lovely little tree or large shrub is not a Canadian native but it sure does work well in our climate! Cornus mas  flowers from late February to mid March (in the  Pacific Northwest).  Cornus mas flowers abundantly providing nourishment for pollinating insects.  With a mature height of 5 metres,  birds will find shelter in the branches.

It also has other adoring features such as, silver bark that at maturity reveals hues of peach and orange as it peels. Its habit or form varies as it can grow as an understory tree or stand alone as a specimen.  Hardy to zone 4 ( -34 C) Cornus mas can be cultivated in a variety of places.

Named after a semi precious gemstone, the Cornelian Cherry ripens in late August/September with cornelian coloured fruits. There are a few cultivars of Cornus mas such as,  ‘Golden Glory’ which has more flowers and a longer bloom time. If  you desire to eat the fruit choosing a cultivar can effect nutrition.

Cornus mas can grow in a variety of soils, but exposure should be orientated around ripening of fruit which requires some morning and afternoon sun.

I like this tree in small gardens because of its mature size and it tolerates understory planting. It also has seasonal interest from the flowers and fruit.  Cornus mas is also more resistant to Discula spp. an Anthracnose that is killing many ornamental dogwoods. Cornus mas is a low maintenance tree that offers edible fruit to people and birds, this tree would be a great addition in many gardens.


Kwantlen Polytechnic University

University of Connecticut plant database 

Plants for a better future

Cornus anthracnose