Cornus mas

Cornus mas

This time of year the weather flits between winter and spring temperatures. Gardeners delight as a warmer, sunny day opens crocus and snowdrop flowers, encourages the bloom of hellebores, and swells the buds of cherry trees. During these days of varying temperatures, a real traffic stopper at the Scott Arboretum is the early spring blooming of Cornus mas.

A portion of the Arboretum is visible along Route 320/Chester Road. You will often see drivers slowing down to admire the profusion of yellow blooms coating the Cornus mas. The office will receive calls from inquiring minds about what is blooming along Chester Road.

Cornus mas photo credit: R. Robert

Cornus mas is often mistaken for a cherry tree, especially because of its common name Cornelian cherry. As apparent to those familiar with Latin names, it is actually in the dogwood family. C. mas can be grown as a large multi-stemmed shrub or as a small oval-shaped tree. Valued for its early spring show of yellow flowers, C. mas also produces small cherry-red oblong drupes in the summer. These drupes are often hidden by foliage but are a good source of food for birds. If you manage to beat the birds to the fruit, they can be used in preserves and syrups.

New planting of Cornus mas 'Golden Glory' around Kemp Hall. photo credit: R. Robert

Several cultivars are available in the trade for your gardens. The most popular is C. mas ‘Golden Glory’. ‘Golden Glory’ is said to be the heaviest and best flowering selection and has won the distinction of being named a Gold Medal Plant. The Scott Arboretum planted this cultivar around Kemp Hall because it is a more upright selection of Cornus mas.

Cornus mas 'Spring Glow' photo credit: R. Robert

Currently putting on the greatest show of color is C. mas ‘Spring Glow’ by Bond Memorial Hall. This cultivar was selected because it has a low chilling requirement making it more suitable for southern gardens. This may explain why it is in full bloom while the other Cornelian cherries are just beginning to open.

Stop by on a sunny, spring day to see all the early blooming plants at the Scott Arboretum.

Becky Robert
  • Barbara Shaw
    Posted at 15:05h, 13 March Reply

    Thanks so much for the blog on Cornus mas. This is number one on my wish list. Barb

  • Becky Robert
    Posted at 15:07h, 13 March Reply

    It is a great plant. Easy to grow and fairly disease free. I can’t decide if I want Cornus mas or Chimonanthus for an early blooming small tree in my garden.

  • Philip Bloomquist
    Posted at 17:37h, 24 March Reply

    Great Blog Becky. Another cool Cornus that you might like that is very similar to Cornus mas but harder to find is Cornus officinalis. It has the yellow spring blooms on a small tree but also has interesting bark.

  • Becky Robert
    Posted at 10:48h, 25 March Reply

    Cornus officinalis is another great plant. We have a beautiful specimen behind the Lang Performing Arts Center in full bloom right now.

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