The Cheerful Cornelian Cherry

By Eric Garris

We welcome spring with the familiar yellow hues of daffodils and forsythia blooming throughout the Arboretum.  In addition to this duo, we’d also like to recognize another great species that shares this same stage early in the season.  Cornelian cherry dogwood or Cornus mas L. is a small tree, 15-20 foot in height, with colorful clusters of yellow blooms opening by early March and continuing through April.  In mid-summer, its fruits ripen to ruby-red and are prized by wildlife as a tasty treat. The fruits’ flavor is best described as that of a sour cherry and are used to make jellies and jam.

This little tree is a great addition to any landscape and will provide vivid color, wildlife forage,  and a cheery reminder that warmer weather is on its way.  Bernheim has several cultivars of this species planted at the Big Prairie Overlook. Come out and see for yourself!



cornus mas fruit

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