Cornelian Cherry

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
Between the entrances of the Peabody Museum and Yale's Environmental Science Center, this small tree brings great beauty to the area with its bright yellow flowers, greenish twigs, and dark brown branches. Its scientific name, "Cornus mas", comes from the word cornu which means “horn” and refers to the hard wood of the Cornelian cherry, and the word mas translates to male and refers to the adaptability of the species.
Tiffany Bell
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Date of tree entry: 
7.37 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.28 m

Cornus mas has bark that is a scaly mix of gray and tan. The bark is extremely dense, which allows it to be easily crafted into tool handles, parts for machines, etc.
Twigs & branches
The branching is upright and spreading, while also dense and compact.
The leaves are dark green with a glossy surface. They are 2" to 4" long and 0.75" to 1.5" wide. In autumn, the leaves are mostly a mix of green, yellow, and red. The leaves, as well as fruits, have antidiarrhetic properties (Ercýslý, 2004).
Reproductive Structures
The small yellow flowers form in numerous rounded clusters. They bloom in late March/early April. The flowers are perfect, in that they bear both male and female parts in the same flower. This allows them to have many breeding individuals in the population and they can even self-pollinate in harsh conditions. They are usually pollinated by bees.
Cornus mas produces bright red, oval-shaped fruits with an elongated pit that adheres tightly to the flesh. This edible, fleshy fruit develops in mid summer, but ripens over an extended period of time (multiple harvests). The fruits contain twice as much vitamin C as oranges, have widely been used in pharmotherapeutics, and are known to increase appetite (Ercýslý, 2004). The fruits, as well as leaves, have antidiarrhetic properties. They are hidden by the summer foliage at times.
Cornus mas is native to central and southern Europe as well as parts of western Asia. It is found in dry deciduous forests and brushlands. Cornus mas shows high adaptation, but it grows best in the humus-rich, limey soils of the lowlands and rolling hills, which are rich in nutritive elements. It can grow in sandy, loamy, or clay soil, as well as acid, neutral, and basic soils. Further, the Cornus mas can grow in semi-shade or no shade and can tolerate strong winds.
Origin, history, and uses: 

A member of the dogwood family, the Cornelian cherry is native to central and southern Europe and parts of western Asia. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to produce lance shafts, and the bark has traditionally been used to make tool handles, spokes, and ladder rungs, while it is known primarily as an ornamental plant in the U.S. now. Its cherry-like fruits have been used to make syrup, jelly, jams, wine, and baked goods and have been consumed for thousands of years.

Cornelian cherries have been known to live and be fruitful for more than 100 years. This small, shrub-like tree can grow up to 15-20 feet.

The Cornelian cherry was considered an important medicinal plant for centuries. It is a good source of anthocyanins and can be a good source of vitamin C.

The flowering period is between January and April, although it usually occurs in late March. The flowers are known to usually be present in the first three weeks of winter. Fuits develop to their matured forms in mid-summer. Dokoupil and Řeznicek (2012) found there to be P, K, Ca, Mg, Na, Zn, Fe, Cu and Mn, as well as vitamin C and pectin in the fruits.

Ercýslý, Sezai. 2004. Cornelian Cherry Germplasm Resources of Turkey. Journal of Fruit and Ornamental Plant Research, 12. 

DOKOUPIL, L., and ŘEZNÍČEK, V.: Production and use of the Cornelian cherry – Cornus mas L. Acta univ. agric.
et silvic. Mendel. Brun., 2012, LX, No. 8, pp. 49–58
Other information of interest: 

In certain European regions such as Bavaria, the Cornus mas is classified as vulnerable for their endangerment and conservation status.

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