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TREES & plants

Cornelian-cherry dogwood

Cornelian-cherry dogwood is a small 20 to 25 foot tree that thrives in well-drained urban conditions as a specimen plant, in masses, near a patio, or as a hedge. Tight clusters of small star-shaped yellow flowers bloom in early spring, covering the tree before leaves emerge. Clean, medium-green foliage appears in summer, shortly followed by dark red fruits, ripening in July. The tree is native to Europe and Asia.

Botanical name: 
Cornus mas
All Common Names: 
cornelian-cherry dogwood, corneliancherry dogwood
Family (English): 
Dogwood
Family (Botanic): 
Cornaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • City parkway
  • Wide median
  • Residential and parks
  • Under utility lines
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Hedge
  • Mixed border
Size Range: 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
Mature Height: 
20-25 feet
Mature Width: 
15-20 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Alkaline soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Intolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Attractive bark
  • Showy flowers
  • Spring blossoms
  • Edible fruit
  • Showy fruit
  • Fall color
Time of Year: 
  • Early winter
  • Mid winter
  • Late winter
  • Early spring
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Yellow
Shape or Form: 
  • Multi-stemmed
  • Oval
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Transplants Well: 
  • No
Wildlife: 
  • Birds
More Information: 

Size and Form

20 to 25 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide; versatile; can be trained into a hedge, a multi-stemmed shrub or a single trunk tree

Tree & Plant Care

A tough, adaptable small multi-stemmed tree or large shrub.
Prune in spring after flowering.

Disease, pests and problems

No serious problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe and Asia.

Attracts birds & butterflies

Fruit attracts songbirds in July.
Host for butterfly caterpillar and larva of the azure butterfly in the spring and summer.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is an attractive dark gray to reddish brown with scaly,  exfoliating patches for some winter interest.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, simple, oval to elliptical, entire with distinct veins, 2 1/2 to 5 inches  long, dark green above, lighter below.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small  (1/8 inch) yellow flowers in tight clusters of about 1 inch wide,  very numerous, appearing before the leaves in early spring.
One of first trees to flower in spring.

Corneliancherry dogwood (Cornus mas)Corneliancherry dogwood (Cornus mas)photo: John Hagstrom

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Elongated, bright red drupe, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, ripening in late summer.

Cultivars and their differences 

Golden Glory  (Cornus mas ‘Golden Glory’): 12 to 15 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide; narrow, upright form