Herb: Cornelian Cherry

Latin name: Cornus mas

Synonyms: Cornus mascula

Family: Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)

Medicinal use of Cornelian Cherry:

The bark and the fruit are astringent, febrifuge and nutritive. The astringent fruit is a good treatment for bowel complaints and fevers, whilst it is also used in the treatment of cholera. The flowers are used in the treatment of diarrhoea.

Description of the plant:


5 m
(16 feet)

to March

Habitat of the herb:

Woodlands, especially in calcareous soils.

Edible parts of Cornelian Cherry:

Fruit - raw, dried or used in preserves. Juicy, with a nice acid flavour. The fully ripe fruit has a somewhat plum-like flavour and texture and is very nice eating, but the unripe fruit is rather astringent. It is rather low in pectin and so needs to be used with other fruit when making jam. At one time the fruit was kept in brine and used like olives. The fruit is a reasonable size, up to 15mm long, with a single large seed. A small amount of edible oil can be extracted from the seeds. Seeds are roasted, ground into a powder and used as a coffee substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

An oil is obtained from the seed. A dye is obtained from the bark. No more details are given. Another report says that a red dye is obtained from the plant, but does not say which part of the plant. The leaves are a good source of tannin. Wood - very hard, it is highly valued by turners. The wood is heavier than water and does not float. It is used for tools, machine parts, etc.

Propagation of Cornelian Cherry:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 - 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months.

Cultivation of the herb:

Woodlands, especially in calcareous soils.

Known hazards of Cornus mas:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.