Cornus mas - Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
Family: Cornaceae

Hear the scientific name

Cornus mas is a broad-rounded large shrub or small tree noted for yellow flowers in late winter and early spring. Cornelian Cherry Dogwood is also known for vigorous growth, clean foliage, and adaptability to both naturalized as well as urban environments.

Alternate common name: Corneliancherry Dogwood

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form2 form Form

-large ornamental shrub or small ornamental tree

-maturing at about 15' tall x 20' wide

-upright rounded to upright spreading growth habit, either multi-trunked or single-trunked and branching low to the ground

-medium growth rate

foliage2 foliage Foliage

-medium to dark green, somewhat shiny, about 3" long, opposite, broad elliptic, and acuminate, with major leaf veins parallel to the undulating and curving leaf margins

-autumn color is a mixture of green and reddish-purple foliage, and ornamentally ineffective


-small yellow

inflorescences are numerous and clustered on the bare stems in Mar., before the leaves emerge; effective for about 3 weeks in late winter and heralding the impending arrival of spring

-very noticeable when in flower esp. when planted in front of a solid-colored background


-immature green fruits turn to bright cherry red in July

-0.5" long oblong fruits are arranged sparsely along the stems and are quite attractive when viewed up-close, but are usually hidden by the summer foliage and therefore are rarely noticed by humans, but are quickly eaten by birds and squirrels


-the first season's green stem growth changes color by late summer, becoming red-brown to purplish on top of the stem and remaining light green on the bottom of the stem

-0.25" globular floral buds mature in late summer and are prominent, being pendulous and either axillary from the nodes on first-year wood, or on short spur shoots from older wood

-vegetative buds are relatively small and very pointed

trunk Trunk

-light brown, exfoliating to lighter tan-yellow shades underneath, subtlely ornamental and seldom noticed because of the low, wide branching

C   U   L   T   U   R   E


-full sun to partial shade

-prefers moist, well-drained soils in full sun, but is adaptable to poor soils, dry soils, soils of various pH, heat, and drought

-virtually no disease or pest problems

-abundantly available, usually in B&B form

-single-trunked forms that branch low or multi-stemmed forms are the normal forms available, but shrubs that have been limbed up (either single- or multi-trunked) into tree form are also occasionally available

-best floral contrast is achieved if planted in front of a red brick wall or with an evergreen tree, shrub, or vine backdrop, to enhance the flowering effect of the small yellow inflorescences that emerge before the foliage


-zones 4 to 8


-native to Central and Southern Europe and Western Asia

U   S   A   G   E


-very urban tolerant

-late winter to early spring yellow inflorescences

-larger, yet more dependable, alternative to Forsythia, as its floral buds are not always winter hardy in northern climates


-invasive (from a spreading branch perspective) upon other plants and structures with age

-cannot maintain turf underneath mature specimens due to its dense shade (unless it is considerably limbed up and thinned with age)


-large foundation, entranceway, non-thorny barrier, deciduous windbreak, embankment, wildlife attraction, border, naturalizing, or specimen large shrub or small tree, also serving as a late winter or early spring flowering accent


-medium texture in foliage and when bare

-thick density in foliage and when bare

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-large shrubs or small trees with early flowering (Hamamelis x intermedia, Amelanchier x grandiflora, Cercis canadensis, Cornus florida, etc.)

-medium- to large-sized shrubs for naturalizing (Calycanthus floridus, Cornus racemosa, Hydrangea quercifolia, Ilex verticillata, Lindera benzoin, Viburnum prunifolium, etc.)


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