Cornelian Cherry – Cornus mas

 

In the dogwood family Cornaceae, native to southern Europe and southwest Asia. This is a medium to large deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 15-40ft tall, with dark brown branches and greenish twigs. The leaves are opposite, with an ovate to oblong shape. Flowers are small, with 4 yellow petals, produced in clusters of 10-25 together in late winter, well before the leaves appear. Fruit is an oblong red drupe containing a single seed.

When ripe (mid to late summer), the berries resemble coffee berries. The fruit is edible, but the unripe fruit is astringent. It only fully ripens after it falls from the tree. When ripe, the fruit is dark ruby red or a bright yellow. It has an acidic flavor best described as a mixture of cranberry and sour cherry; it is mainly used for making jam, makes an excellent sauce similar to crabnberry sauce when pitted and then boiled with sugar and orange, but also can be eaten dried.

It is also grown as an ornamental plant for its late winter flowers. Wood 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.