Facts about Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas)

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Cornelian cherry Quick Facts
Name: Cornelian cherry
Scientific Name: Cornus mas
Origin South western regions of Asia and southern Europe
Colors Green when young turning to bright cherry red
Shapes Spherical or elliptical, drupe, with an average length of 1.5–2 cm long and 1.5 cm in diameter
Taste Tart sweet, sour and in some cases sweet-pineapple
Health benefits Good for bowel complaints, fevers, dysentery, diarrhea, kidneys, hypertension, common cold, flu and cholera
Cornus mas, the Cornelian cherry or Cornelian cherry dogwood, is a species of flowering plant in the dogwood family Cornaceae. There are nearly 50 species of cornelian cherry in the world. Apart from the cornelian cherry, the most popular include: alternate-leaved dogwood, flowering dogwood, kousa dogwood, wedding cake tree and Japanese cornelian cherry. The plant is native to south western regions of Asia and southern Europe. In Asia, it is found growing in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran, Israel, Georgia, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. Common dogwood, Cornelian cherry, Male dogwood, Cornejo macho, Sorbet, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, dogwood, European cornel and Cornel cherry are some of the popular common names of the plant.

Genus name comes from the Latin word cornu meaning horn in probable reference to the strength and density of the wood. Cornus is also the Latin name for cornelian cherry. Specific epithet comes from the Latin word for male in reference to the absence of fruits that sometimes occurs for several years after new plants begin to bloom. Common name refers to the cherry-like fruits which resemble in color the semi-precious gemstone carnelian (or cornelian).

Cornelian Cherry Facts

Name Cornelian cherry
Scientific Name Cornus mas
Native South western regions of Asia and southern Europe
Common Names Common dogwood, Cornelian cherry, Male dogwood, Cornejo macho, Sorbet, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, dogwood, European cornel, Cornel cherry
Name in Other Languages Abkhazian: Абгыӡыр
Albanian: Thana, thane
Arabic: qaraniaan ‘uwrubiya (قرانيا أوروبية)
Armenian: Chapki arakan (Ճապկի արական)
Azerbaijani: Adi zoğal
Basque: Zuhandor ar
Bavarian: Diandling, Gäiwn Hartriegl, Koanelkiaschn
Belarusian: Kizil zvyčajny (Кізіл звычайны)
Bokmal: Vårkornell
Bulgarian: Obiknoven dryan (Обикновен дрян)
Cantonese: zhū yú (茱萸)
Catalan: Corneller mascle
Chechen: Stov (Стов)
Chinese: Dà guǒ shānzhūyú (大果山茱萸)
Croatian: Drenjine, Drijen, Drijenak, drin jarni, svida drin, svída dřín
Czech: Dřín jarní, dřín obecný
Danish:  Kirsebær-Kornel, Kornelkirsebær
Dutch:  Gele Kornoelje
English:  Common dogwood, Cornelian cherry, Male dogwood, Cornejo macho, Sorbet, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, dogwood, European cornel, Cornel cherry
Esperanto: Karneca kornuso
Finnish: Punamarjakanukka
French:  Cornouiller male, Cornouiller sauvage, Cornouille, aournier, bois de fer, cormier, cornier, cornier sauvage, corniolay, cornouiller des bois, cornouiller des haies, courgelier, fusilier, savignon
Georgian: Shvindi (შვინდი),chveulebrivi shindi (ჩვეულებრივი შინდი)
German:  Dirndl Strauch, Herlitze, Dürlitze, Gelber Hartriegel, Hirlnuss, Kornelle, Kornelkirsche, Tierlibaum, Gelber Hornstrauch, Dirlitz, Dirndlbaum, Gelbhartriegel,
Greek: Krána (Κράνα)
Hungarian: Húsos som
Irish: Coirnéilean
Italian:  Corniolo, Cornolaro, corniolo maschio, crognolo
Japanese:  Se iyousanshuyu (セ イヨウサンシュユ),  Seiyou sanjuu
Lak: Junav (Жунав)
Lombard: Cornàl
Lithuanian: Geltonoji sedula, Geltonžiedė sedula
Macedonian: Dren (Дрен), običen dren (обичен дрен)
Manx: Billey cornel
Norwegian: Bærkornell, vårkornell
Occitan: Cournié
Persian:   زغال اخته,    
Pichard: Cornilho
Polish:  Dereń jadalny, Dereń właściwy
Portuguese: Cornelian cereja, corniso, cornizo
Romanian: Corn
Russian: Kizil mužskoj (Кизил мужской), Kizil obyknovennyy (Кизил обыкновенный),  Doren muzhskoy (Дёрен мужской), Kizil muzhskoy (Кизил мужской)
Serbian:  Dren (Дрен), Drenjina (Дрењина)
Serbo Croatian: Dren, Drijen, Drijenak
Shambala: Dren, Drijen, Drijenak
Slovak: Drieň obyčajný
Slovenian: Rumeni dren
Spanish:  Cornejo común, Cornejo macho, Corno Europeo, cornejo, cornizo, cuerno
Swedish:  Körsbärskornell
Turkish:  Kızılcık, Ergen, Ergençiçeği, Kiren,
Upper Sorbian: Drijenak
Ukrainian:  Deren spravzhniy (Дерен справжній), Kyzyl spravzhniy (Кизил справжній), Kyzyl (Кизил), Kizil (Кизиль)
Venetian: Cornolaro, Cornołaro
Welsh: Cwyrosyn y ceirios
Plant Growth Habit Medium to large, slow-growing, deciduous, multi steamed shrub or small tree
Growing Climates Woodlands, especially in calcareous soils, undergrowth in light, mainly oak and hornbeam forests, also at forest edges and in shrubby thickets on slopes
Soil Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, organically rich soils
Plant Size 20-25 ft. ( 6-8m) high, spreading to 15 ft. (4.5 m) and short bole is usually up to 25cm in diameter, occasionally to 45cm
Crown Regular, bushy, hemispherical, and may expand more horizontally up to 5m
Bark Grey-brownish, peeling off in scaly flakes like crocodile skin
Trunk Straight, sometimes with sinuous or multiple stems, the branches ends often drooping
Twigs Slender, glabrous, purplish red and green, turn brown the second year, pith white, leaf buds slender and pointed, flower buds much larger and round
Shoot The young shoots are hairy grey-greenish, becoming hairless later
Leaf Arranged opposite to one another with a short stalk and measure about 4 cm to 10 cm in length and 2 cm to 4 cm in width. The shape of the leaves vary from ovate to oblong
Flowering season February to March
Flower Small hermaphrodite yellow flowers measuring about 5 mm to 10 mm in diameter. Each flower has four small yellow petals. These flowers appear in clusters of 10 to 25 flowers
Fruit Shape & Size Spherical or elliptical, drupe, with an average length of 1.5–2 cm long and 1.5 cm in diameter and a weight of 1.6–2.6 g, containing a single seed
Fruit Color Green when young turning to bright cherry red as they matures
Fruit Weight Ranges from 2.09 to 9.17 g, depending on the plant genotype and cultivation conditions
Plant Parts Used Fruit, bark, roots
Taste Tart sweet, sour and in some cases sweet-pineapple
Season September to October
Precautions
  • Excess use may cause skin irritation.

Plant Description

Cornelian cherry is a light-demanding and medium to large, slow-growing, and deciduous, multi steamed shrub or small tree that normally grows about 20-25 ft. (6-8m) tall and spread up to 15 ft. (4.5 m) wide and short bole is usually up to 25 cm in diameter, occasionally to 45 cm. The crown is regular, bushy, hemispherical, and may expand more horizontally up to 5 m. The trunk is straight, sometimes with sinuous or multiple stems, the branches ends often drooping. The bark is grey-brownish, peeling off in scaly flakes like crocodile skin. The young shoots are hairy grey-greenish, becoming hair less lately. The plant is found growing in woodlands, especially in calcareous soils, undergrowth in light, mainly oak and hornbeam forests, also at forest edges and in shrubby thickets on slopes. The plant can be easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade and normally prefers moist, organically rich soils. It also a long living tree, surviving up to 300 years.

Leaves

The plant bears deep brown branches, while the twigs are greenish. The leaves are arranged opposite to one another with a short stalk and measure about 4 cm to 10 cm in length and 2 cm to 4 cm in width. The shape of the leaves vary from ovate to oblong with an entire margin that is shortly acuminate and supplied with visible parallel veins. Leaves are dark green above and lighter below. They turn to mahogany red in autumn.

Leaf arrangement Opposite/sub opposite
Leaf type Simple
Leaf margin Entire
Leaf shape Ovate
Leaf venation Pinnate, bowed
Leaf type and persistence Deciduous
Leaf blade length 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color Green
Fall color Red
Fall characteristic Showy

 

Flowers

Cornelian cherry trees bear small hermaphrodite yellow flowers measuring about 5 mm to 10 mm in diameter. Each flower has four small yellow petals. These flowers appear in clusters of 10 to 25 flowers towards the end of winter sometime between February and March, much before the leaves of the new growth season appear.

Flower color Yellow
Flower Characteristics Showy

 

 Fruits

Fertile flowers are followed by spherical or elliptical, drupe, with an average length of 1.5–2 cm long and 1.5 cm in diameter and a weight of 1.6–2.6 g with a smooth and shiny rind and containing a single seed. The fruit is edible when it falls and is spread by animals. Fruits are edible, although sour tasting fresh off the plant. Fruits may be used for making syrups and preserves.

Fruit Shape Oval
Fruit Length 0.5 to 1 inch
Fruit covering Fleshy
Fruit Color Red, yellow
Fruit characteristics Attracts birds, showy, fruit/leaves a litter problem

 

Distribution

Cornelian cherry is native of the temperate zones of Eurasia, with a Pontic and Mediterranean distribution. It occurs from central and southern Europe (Pyrenees, France, Italy and Balkan Peninsula) to Asia Minor (Turkey, Caucasus). Though, it can also be commonly found all over Europe outside its natural range, as it has been exported for centuries first as a fruit and medicinal plant, then as an ornamental shrub, and is now naturalized in some countries. Though its natural northern limits are Belgium and Germany, it has been planted in colder regions: e.g. in Oslo, Corneli-cherry trees in parks and gardens ripen every year. It has also been exported to North America as a landscape ornamental, and to China as an ornamental tree and for medical uses.

Traditional uses and benefits of Cornelian cherry

  • Bark and the fruit are astringent, febrifuge and nutritive.
  • Astringent fruit is a good treatment for bowel complaints and fevers, whilst it is also used in the treatment of cholera.
  • Flowers are used in the treatment of diarrhea.
  • It has traditionally been used for curing diarrhea and dysentery.
  • Consumption of these berries and therapeutic formulations made from them helps speedy recovery from numerous ailments and restore to normal health after the illnesses.
  • Drinking the juice extracted from cornelian cherry berry can also promote recovery after a bout of severe diarrhea.
  • Consuming these berries on a regular basis helps to boost the functioning of liver by exercising a potent hepato protective action.
  • Eating cornelian cherry also promotes the functioning of the kidneys.
  • Consumption of this fruit helps to promote urine production, thus supporting the normal functioning of the kidneys.
  • Cornelian cherry also aids in lowering high blood pressure and is beneficial for people suffering from hypertension.
  • This berry-like fruit also encourages detoxification of the entire body.
  • It is perfect for preventing common cold and flu, as it consists of high levels of vitamin C.
  • Fruits are used for treating a variety of health conditions, including fever and various complaints related to the bowel.
  • These fruits are also used for treating cholera.
  • Consumption of these cherries also helps to relieve the mucous membranes in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, clear the body of infections and also restore our health.
  • Small amount of edible oil can be extracted from the seeds.
  • Seeds are roasted, ground into a powder and used as a coffee substitute.

Culinary Uses

  • Fruit can be consumed raw, dried or used in preserves.
  • Fully ripe fruit has a somewhat plum-like flavor 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.
  • Small amount of edible oil can be extracted from the seeds.
  • Seeds are roasted, ground into a powder and used as a coffee substitute.
  • In Azerbaijan and Armenia, the fruit is used for distilling vodka, in Austria and German Alps is used for distilling Dirndlbrand.
  • In Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina it is distilled into Rakia.
  • In Turkey and Iran, it is consumed with salt as a snack in summer, and traditionally drunk in a cold drink called kızılcık şerbeti.
  • Cornus mas is also a traditional component of liquors, jams, comfitures and other fruit-based products
  • The leaves can be used as a tea substitute.

Other facts

  • Oil is obtained from the seed.
  • A dye is obtained from the bark.
  • The leaves are a good source of tannin.
  • Wood is very hard; it is highly valued by turners.
  • It is used for tools, machine parts, etc.
  • Cornus mas was used from the seventh century BC onward by Greek craftsmen to construct spears, javelins and bows, the craftsmen considering it far superior to any other wood.
  • Wood has been famously associated with weaponry.
  • Bark of cornelian cherry trees was used to make a red dye, which is used to make fezzes.
  • During full fruit bearing, 20–80 kg of fruits can be picked from one tree.
  • The thin trunks make excellent walking sticks and canes.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=565094#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=11563

https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Cornus+mas

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c290

http://www.floracatalana.net/cornus-mas-l-

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=COMA21

https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/cornus-mas

https://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/31669/#b

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st193

http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=280

https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q158642

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=271532&isprofile=0&

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-47432

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornus_mas

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/CRWMS

https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/16302

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