This small, upright to spreading, 15- to 20-foot-tall
tree bears small yellow flowers very early (in late winter or early
spring) before leaves develop. Flower buds are conspicuous and attractive
in winter, and the bark is flaky, exfoliating and gray-brown to brown.
Foliage turns purplish-red in fall.
The fruits, about the size and shape of a
medium-sized olive, ripen to a dark reddish-maroon in late summer. They
are delightful in jellies, tarts and sweetmeats, and are also used to
flavor sherbets and distilled spirits.
Growing Cornelian Cherries
Cornelian cherries are hardy in Zones 5 to 8. They grow best in full sun to
part shade. They prefer fertile, well-drained soils, but tolerate a wide
range of soil types.
Cornelian cherries are easy to transplant when young, but take
a while to get established. They tend to be multi-stemmed
with branches to the ground, but can be pruned and trained into single-stemmed
trees. This is one of the few small edible landscape trees that you can
plant in partly shady areas under large trees.
Cultivars include 'Aureo-elegantissima', which has creamy-white variegated
leaves; 'Flava', which has yellow fruits that are larger and sweeter than
the species; and 'Golden Glory', which has upright branching and bears
large, abundant flowers and large red fruit.
Generally pest free.
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