Herbs & Plants

Cornus mas

Botanical Name : Cornus mas
Family: Cornaceae
Genus: Cornus
Subgenus: Cornus
Species: C. mas
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cornales

Common Name :European Cornel or Cornelian Cherry.

Habitat :  Cornus mas  is native to southern Europe (from France to Ukraine), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria. It grows in woodlands, especially in calcareous soils

It is a medium to large deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5–12 m tall, with dark brown branches and greenish twigs. The leaves are opposite, 4–10 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with an ovate to oblong shape and an entire margin. The flowers are small (5–10 mm diameter), with four yellow petals, produced in clusters of 10–25 together in the late winter, well before the leaves appear. The fruit is an oblong red drupe 2 cm long and 1.5 cm in diameter, containing a single seed….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Bloom Color: Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Early winter, Late winter, Mid spring, Mid winter. Form: Rounded.

Cultivation :
Landscape Uses:Border, Firewood, Pest tolerant, Hedge, Screen, Specimen, Woodland garden. An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any soil of good or moderate fertility, ranging from acid to shallow chalk. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil and a sunny position but also succeeds in light shade. Plants are fairly wind resistant. Plants grow and crop well in pots. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°c. At one time the cornelian cherry was frequently cultivated for its edible fruit, though it has fallen into virtual disuse as a fruit crop in most areas. It is still being cultivated in parts of C. Europe and there are some named varieties. ‘Macrocarpa’ has larger fruits than the type. ‘Nana’ is a dwarf form, derived from a yellow-fruited clone. ‘Variegata’ has been seen on a number of occasions with very large crops of fruit, even in years when the type species has not fruited well. ‘Jolico’ has well-flavoured fruits 3 times larger than the species. There are also a number of cultivars with yellow, white and purplish fruit. Seedlings can take up to 20 years to come into fruit. Plants produced from cuttings come into fruit when much younger, though they do not live as long as the seedlings. A very ornamental plant it flowers quite early in the year and is a valuable early food for bees. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.Special Features:Attracts birds, Not North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 – 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months

The berries when ripe on the plant bear a resemblance to coffee berries, and ripen in mid to late summer. The fruit is edible, but the unripe fruit is astringent. The fruit only fully ripens after it falls from the tree. When ripe, the fruit is dark ruby red. It has an acidic flavour which is best described as a mixture of cranberry and sour cherry; it is mainly used for making jam, makes an excellent sauce similar to cranberry sauce when pitted and then boiled with sugar and orange, but also can be eaten dried. In Azerbaijan and Armenia, the fruit is used for distilling vodka, while in Albania it is distilled into raki. In Turkey and Iran it is eaten with salt as a snack in summer, and traditionally drunk in a cold drink called kizilcik sherbeti. Cultivars selected for fruit production in Ukraine have fruit up to 4 cm long.

The species is also grown as an ornamental plant for its late winter flowers, which open earlier than those of forsythia, and, while not as large and vibrant as those of the forsythia, the entire plant can be used for a similar effect in the landscape.

The wood of C. mas is extremely dense, and unlike the wood of most other woody plant species, sinks in water. This density makes it valuable for crafting into tool handles, parts for machines, etc.  Cornus mas was used from the seventh century BC onward by Greek craftsman to construct spears, javelins and bows, the craftsmen considering it far superior to any other wood. The wood’s association with weaponry was so well known that the Greek name for it was used as a synonym for “spear” in poetry during the fourth and third centuries BC. In Italy, the mazzarella, uncino or bastone, the stick carried by the butteri or mounted herdsmen of the Maremma region, is traditionally made of cornel-wood, there called crognolo or grugnale, dialect forms of Italian: corniolo.

The red dye used to make fezzes was produced from its bark and tannin is produced from its leaves.

Garden history:
Cornus mas, the Male Cornel, was named to distinguish it from the true Dogberry, the Female Cornel, C. sanguinea, and so it appears in John Gerard’s Herbal. The shrub was not native to the British Isles. William Turner had only heard of the plant in 1548,  but by 1551 he had heard of one at Hampton Court Palace. John Gerard said that it was to be found in the gardens “of such as love rare and dainty plants” and by the 17th century, the fruits were being pickled in brine or served up in tarts.

The appreciation of the early acid yellow flowers, of little individual interest, is largely a 20th-century development.  The Royal Horticultural Society gave Cornus mas an Award of Merit in 1924.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit; Oil; Oil.
Edible Uses: Coffee; Oil; Oil.

Fruit – raw, dried or used in preserves. Juicy, with a nice acid flavour. The fully ripe fruit has a somewhat plum-like flavour and texture and is very nice eating, but the unripe fruit is rather astringent. It is rather low in pectin and so needs to be used with other fruit when making jam. At one time the fruit was kept in brine and used like olives. The fruit is a reasonable size, up to 15mm long, with a single large seed. A small amount of edible oil can be extracted from the seeds. Seeds are roasted, ground into a powder and used as a coffee substitute

Medicinal Uses:
The fruits have a mildly astringent action. The same fruits, when eaten fresh, are a good gastro-intestinal astringent and used for bowel complaints and fevers, while also used in the treatment of cholera.   Apart from its astringent properties, cornel bark can be used as a tonic and febrifuge.  The flowers are used in the treatment of diarrhea.

Other Uses
Dye; Hedge; Hedge; Oil; Oil; Tannin; Wood.

An oil is obtained from the seed. A dye is obtained from the bark. No more details are given. Another report says that a red dye is obtained from the plant, but does not say which part of the plant. The leaves are a good source of tannin. Wood – very hard, it is highly valued by turners. The wood is heavier than water and does not float. It is used for tools, machine parts, etc.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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