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Cornus officinalis

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Kemper Code:  B995

Common Name: Japanese cornelian cherry
Zone: 5 to 8
Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Cornaceae
Missouri Native: No
Native Range: China, Korea, Japan
Height: 15 to 25 feet
Spread: 15 to 25 feet
Bloom Time: March   Bloom Data
Bloom Color: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Grow in acidic, organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Some afternoon shade is appreciated in hot summer climates such as the St. Louis area. Best performance occurs in cool summer climates. Provide consistent moisture and mulch root zone. Promptly remove root suckers to control spread.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

Native to China, Japan and Korea, Cornus officinalis (Japanese cornel dogwood) usually grows as a large, spreading, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub to 15-25 tall. It also may be grown as a small tree. It is very similar to Cornus mas, except it grows with a slightly more open habit, flowers one week earlier, has more attractive bark and often has brown hair tufts in the vein axils on the leaf undersides. Ovate to elliptic, dark green leaves (to 4 3/4 long). Variable fall color ranges from drab pale yellow to attractive reddish-purple. Yellow flowers appear in late winter to very early spring before the leaves in 3/4 wide clusters (umbels). Flowers are followed in fall by oblong red fruits (drupes) that are technically edible but astringent. Exfoliating bark has tones of gray and brown.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Effective in foundations, shrub borders, woodland gardens, bird gardens or naturalized areas. Grow as a hedge. Train as a small tree.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011

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