Cornelian Cherry - Yea or Nay?

I grow quite a few different fruits but have never tried cornelian cherry (not sure why). For those who grow it, I have a few questions:

Is it worth growing for fresh eating? Does it produce a good jam/jelly?
Is it typically bothered by pests or disease? (I’m in south-central PA)
What cultivars would you recommend? I’m looking at a few that OGW offers.

In some ways, it looks like it’d be worth growing for the flowers alone.

1 Like

I have one and the fruit can be somewhat tart,unless left on the tree until they are almost shriveling.Then they taste like wine.
I went to a fruit tasting in the Fall at One Green World,before getting my plant.They had a Cornelian Cherry gelato/ice cream that was so good,I kept going back for one more little cup.
I made a sauce and was going to try and replicate the dessert but added some to vanilla ice cream and liked it very much.There was a lady,Olga,who posted sometimes on GW,that wrote,served with lamb,it couldn’t be beat.
I bought one at a local nursery,that had no name tag.
Nothing bothers mine,insect,fungus or disease.
Mine has fairly small fruit and I’d go for the bigger varieties.Drew posted earlier that Whitman Farms in Oregon has some.Big Fruit just happens to be one of them.Maybe call and talk to Lucile there.
I’ve read that two different ones are needed to produce,but the one I have does fine alone.But take that into consideration,maybe more that way,kind of like Blueberries.
Yes,beautiful during late Winter/early Spring. Brady

1 Like

Cornus mas, or cornelian cherry produce fruit in a carefree manner, no sprays necessary. A bit tart for some to eat out of hand, they are traditionally processed in some way to make preserves, liquors, pickled like olives. 4 season ornamental value with the beautiful early spring bloom, attractive foliage, interesting branch structure. Nutrient dense in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Yea!

1 Like

I have five trees. One was purchased as a cultivar being marketed for its bloom and not necessarily for its fruit. It and one of of the other four bloom and fruit every Spring (the others are smaller and so far have not bloomed). Of the two bloomers, one has large berries and one has small berries. Neither one has any flavor at all except if cooked or mushed up with sugar and a splash of lemon juice. It doesn’t have to be a lot of sugar. Only then do they taste anything like a cherry. At least to me. They are worth growing if you don’t have full sun - mine do fine in half day sun.

1 Like

Bumping this. I have an empty spot out front waiting for an ornamental fruiting shrub. I was considering goumi, but yesterday I went to the local fruit grower meeting, and the verdict seemed to be that they aren’t worth it (plus, the bush growing there was ugly). The cornelian cherry, on the other hand, turned into a surprise hit once we realized you had to eat the fallen ones instead of picking off the bush. I brought a handful home for the kids to sample and they loved them, too.

I believe the cultivar was Red Star. He had another with smaller, yellow fruit next to it which wasn’t as good. Anybody know how self-fertile these are? I’m seeing conflicting information.

I just planted a couple this spring. I hadn’t heard that about picking the fallen ones. Do you spread a tarp under the tree? Good info to know. Thanks.

Ate some of these fresh yesterday. Sour, and very astringent like an unripe persimmon.

We made that mistake when we first sampled ours. Picked it off the tree and had the moisture sucked right out of my mouth. I’m glad I went back for seconds from the ground, though.

Has anyone had success germinating these from seed?

I haven’t, and have tried cold-stratification a couple of ways.

Cornelian cherries are traditionally harvested like olives- fallen, shaken fruit is gathered off tarps. Fruit that is picked from the tree might not be fully ripe. The seed requires warm, then cold stratification periods of 12-16 weeks for germination. More than one variety is recommended for best fruit set, though I have seen instances of a single tree bearing decent crops.


On a visit to Ithaca this summer I stopped at the Cornell Plantations and saw a very old Cornelian Cherry. It was a very impressive tree and loaded with fruit.

I should have paced it off, but I think it was at least 40 feet wide.


Nice pic of a beautiful specimen- big un! I might have received a few seedlings from that location in a trade. I visited the Arnold Arboretum and sought out their cornus mas, one is over 120 yrs of age. They were quite lovely in that setting. I am trialing them in a mixed orchard setting, interplanted in rows of apples.

Wow, beautiful old tree. I planted two grafted cornus mas bare root from Fedco last year, on the takeaway from Lee Reich’s books that it makes pretty good fruit, is problem free, and decorative. They didn’t do much growing last year, and had some kind of black spots on the leaves (anthracnose?). This year they are doing better and put on some growth, but still don’t look very robust. Hopefully next year they will pick up steam. The soil they are in is not great and pretty dense, but I’ve put compost on top the last two years, water them sometimes, and have sprayed with fish/kelp/EM-1 that I used a few times on my apple trees this year.

I’m kind of worried though, because I discovered one or two cornelian cherry behind the public library in Lexington, which I kept an eye on last season since I pass close by on bike commuting to work. They did not put on much fruit, and what was there went from intensely tannic and sour to vaguely rotten tasting right before falling off. Hopefully the varieties I planted are better for fruit!

Just got my delivery from burnt ridge. It contained three cornelian cherry seedlings that are each two years old. They have better height than i expected, based on how everyone says that they take their time growing.

Anyone have updates on how their older cornus mas are doing?

huh…I got 2 last year and stuck them in the garden, they were more like 8-10" tall, well-branched (looked kinda like small blueberry bushes instead of whips) and put on a couple inches this past year only, but are leafing out and looking good now…

1 Like

I have about 10 seedlings under each of mine (Elegant, Yellow). I finally transferred some to pots so I can share them. So yes they do germinate from seed but it seems to be a pretty small percentage. On the other hand I wasn’t trying to germinate them, they just fell off the shrub.


I have two of these. Here are my thoughts

  1. They are DEFINITELY useful to grow just for flowers/bark/foliage. They also have dense foliage and could be great nesting sites for birds.
  2. No insects or diseases appear to bother them
  3. I have made jam out of the cherries. They are a pain because they have very cylindrical seeds. Jam tasted Ok. Nothing to write home about.
  4. I have to pull a ton of seedlings from beneath my trees. I didn’t buy named cultivars just seedlings.
    I attached a picture of mine in bloom with the caveat that I have pruned mine very narrowly did to space constraints. This tree seems to naturally want to spread very horizontally.

Yes it does spread horizontally I have 14 seedlings I made into a hedge. Low branches are retained and even spread if pruned. I have a cultivar too and it makes bigger fruit and a ton more of it. Some seedlings after 8 years still have no fruit. So I wanted a hedge and it’s excellent tree for tall hedges. I make a syrup from the fruit and it’s also excellent. The fruit in Iran was used like we use cranberries for turkey. As a sauce for meat.


Has anyone tried grafting cultivars onto their seedlings for these? Just wondering how they worked out.

1 Like

Of the two I planted in 2015, Pioneer and Sunset, one is dead or nearly so. The other has some brushy branches about 8 inches long. Not much to say for it after 6 years. I have considered replacing the dead one, but not sure it is worth the trouble. They might have gotten some whiffs of herbicide drift from the nearby cornfield, too, plus battling weeds. Maybe I should try planting a couple well away from the cornfield in the fencing cage where the pecan trees croaked. Most of the marginal stuff I have tried has been just that—marginal.