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Cornelian Cherry

Written by John James, posted on Monday, March 12, 2018

Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas)At the end of the Meadow Building and just outside the gate into the Master Gardens there is a large but inconspicuous shrub that comes into its own in late winter and early spring. It is a Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas) which comes from southern Europe and south west Asia and is a close relative of our native Dogwood.

The shrub has yellow flowers which appear long before the leaves, and the fruit which only fully ripen when they fall from the bush in late summer are edible, but acidic in flavour, and can be made into jams and sauces as well as being used to flavour vodkas and other alcoholic drinks. The fruits are high in vitamin C and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Interestingly the wood from the shrub is so dense that it does not float in water and was used by ancient Greek craftsmen to make bows and spears.

Specimens of this shrub can also be found growing along the edge of Long Meadow on the bank of the River Cherwell leading us to wonder if this area too was planted with ornamental species as well as native ones in the past.

Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas) flowers