Content Detail

Cornelian-cherry dogwood, one of the first trees to flower in spring, is a small, 20 to 25 feet high tree or large shrub. It thrives in well-drained urban conditions as a specimen plant, in masses, near a patio, or as a hedge. Tight clusters of small star-shaped yellow flowers bloom in early spring, covering the tree before leaves emerge. Clean, medium-green foliage appears in summer, shortly followed by dark red fruits which ripen in July. The tree is native to Europe and Asia.

  • Family (English) Dogwood
  • Family (botanic) Cornaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Under utility lines, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree, Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Mature height 20-25 feet
  • Mature width 15-20 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional flooding
  • Season of interest early spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Yellow
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Oval, Round
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well No
  • Wildlife Birds
  • Has cultivars Yes

More Information

Size and Form

A small oval 20 to 25 feet high tree or large shrub.

Native Geographic Location and Habitat

It is native to Europe and Asia.

Birds and Butterflies

Many birds eat the fruit.

Bark Color and Texture

The bark is an attractive dark gray to reddish-brown with scaly, exfoliating patches for some winter interest.

Leaf Description

Leaves are opposite, simple, oval to elliptical, and entire with distinct veins.  Each leaf is 2 1/2 to 5 inches  long, dark green above and lighter below.

Flower Description

Small 1/8 inch yellow flowers in tight clusters of about 1 inch wide are very numerous, appearing before the leaves in early spring.

Fruit and seed descriptions

Elongated, bright red drupes of 1/2 to 3/4 inch long ripen in late summer.

Care Knowledge

Plant Care

Cornelian-cherry dogwood is a tough, adaptable small multi-stemmed tree or large shrub that thrives in well-drained urban conditions. Prune it in spring after flowering.

Pests, Diseases and Tolerances

There aren’t any serious problems.


Golden Glory (Cornus mas ‘Golden Glory’)

A 12 to 15 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide cultivar that has a narrow, upright form.


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