beach plums Minor Fruit Home Page
Department of Horticulture

Cornelian Cherries
Cornus mas

Minor Fruits Home Page

Cornelian cherry fruit
Cornelian cherry fruit

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.

Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.

Website design and coding: Rachel Kennedy and Craig Cramer