Cornus officinalis (Asiatic Dogwood, Japanese Cornelian Cherry) is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to East Asia. It is highly valued for its early spring flowers and bright red edible fruits. Here is some information about Cornus officinalis:
Appearance: Asiatic Dogwood is a medium-sized shrub or small tree that can reach a height of 3 to 6 meters (10 to 20 feet) with a similar spread. It has a spreading habit with multiple stems. The leaves are opposite, ovate to elliptical in shape, and dark green in color, turning reddish-purple in the fall. The branches are grayish-brown and develop an attractive, scaly bark with age.
Flowers and Fruit: Asiatic Dogwood produces clusters of small, bright yellow flowers in late winter to early spring, before the leaves emerge. The flowers are borne in dense clusters and have a unique star-like shape. Following the flowers, the shrub develops fleshy, oblong fruits that are initially green and ripen to bright red in late summer to early fall. The fruits are edible and have a tart, acidic flavor. They are often used in jams, jellies, and other culinary preparations.
Cultivation: Asiatic Dogwood is cultivated for both its ornamental value and its fruit production. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. It is relatively tolerant of various soil types, including loam, clay, and sandy soils. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8.
Landscape Use: Asiatic Dogwood is widely used in landscapes and gardens for its early spring flowers and attractive fruits. It can be planted as a specimen plant, in mixed borders, or as part of a naturalistic planting scheme. It also works well in cottage gardens or woodland gardens.
Wildlife Value: The fruits of Asiatic Dogwood are attractive to birds, such as thrushes and waxwings, which feed on them. The shrub can provide food and habitat for wildlife, contributing to biodiversity in the area.
Cultural Significance: Cornus officinalis has cultural significance in East Asia. It has been cultivated for centuries for its fruits and is associated with traditional festivals and celebrations.