Cornus mas

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood




  • native to central and southern Europe and parts of western Asia
  • hardy to zone 4

Habit and Form

  • a small, deciduous tree
  • reaching 20' tall or slightly larger
  • shape is rounded
  • branching is upright and spreading
  • dense and compact branching
  • typically multistemmed with a very short main trunk
  • branching is low branches hovering just above the ground

Summer Foliage

  • opposite, simple leaves
  • leaves are 2" to 4" long and 0.75" to 1.5" wide
  • petioles are quite short
  • leaf color is dark green
  • leaf surface is glossy
  • overall, summer foliage is of high quality

Autumn Foliage

  • typically not very good
  • mostly a mix of green and yellow with some purple-red highlights


  • small yellow flowers in rounded clusters
  • flower clusters are numerous
  • blooms in late March or early April
  • for the early bloom time, flowering is quite showy
  • flowers are best viewed against a dark background


  • bright red fruits shaped like an olive
  • between 0.5" to 1" long and about 0.5" wide
  • fruit color develops in mid summer
  • can be eaten when color becomes dark red or maroon
  • often consumed quickly by birds


  • showy exfoliating bark
  • a scaly mix of gray and tan
  • not stunning, but relatively attractive
  • adds to multiseason interest


  • full sun or partial shade
  • fairly easy to transplant, but can be slow to reestablish
  • prefers moist, rich, well-drained soil, but relatively adaptable
  • can be trimmed up at the base to make more tree-like and reveal the exfoliating bark better

Landscape Use

  • in shrub borders
  • hedges
  • screens
  • as a specimen
  • useful for early yellow flowers
  • multiseasonal for flowers good quality summer foliage, fruit and bark
  • works well in small groupings or groves


  • branching to the ground prevents turf growth beneath unless limbed up
  • fruit can be messy, staining sidewalks
  • very pest resistant

ID Features

  • yellow flowers early in spring
  • red, olive-shaped fruit
  • exfoliating bark
  • dark green, glossy foliage
  • small, rounded tree
  • flower buds are rounded and numerous


  • by cuttings
  • by seed


'Aurea' - A yellow-foliage form that is very hardy. The leaves will age to green in warm weather climates, however.

'Elegant', 'Pioneer' and 'Redstone' - C. mas is a edible food crop in many European areas, and its use as a culinary plant is increasing in this country. These three cultivars are notable for their heavy fruit set of fruit, which may be used for preserves, syrup, etc.

'Elegantissima' (also listed as 'Aureo-elegantissima', 'Tricolor' may be the same) - A striking variegated form that is gaining popularity. The leaves are edged with pink or yellow, though the color loses brilliance later in the season. The plant is much smaller and weaker than other forms.

'Flava' - A form that features fruit that is yellow and ripens a bit ahead of other types.

'Golden Glory' - An upright form that is a heavy bloomer. Widely available, though probably not as hardy as other forms.

'Spring Glow' and 'Spring Sun' (also listed as 'Spring Grove') - Two cultivars that exhibit overall fine characteristics, with handsome foliage, rounded habit and bright yellow blooms.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.