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Japanese Cornel Dogwood

Scientific Name

Cornus officinalis

Origin

Mainly from east Asia.  China, Korea and Japan

Habitat

Woodland areas at over 3,500 ft. to about 6000 ft. on mountain slopes. Also found in forest margins and occasionally at lower elevations.

Growth Nature

Grows as a large, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub or small tree to a height of 15 to 25 ft.  Typical spread can be 15 to 25 ft.  Spreads by roots underground.  Prefers full sun to partial shade and can deal with a wide variety of soil types.

Points of Interest

  • Fruit, which is slightly astringent, is edible and valued by wildlife.  Attractive to birds in particular.

  • The genus Cornus means “horn”, a reference to its particularly hard wood.

  • Also known as the Japanese Cornelian Cherry. A reference to its red fruit that is in no way cherry-like.

  • The Chinese have used the plant for over 2,000 years in herbal medicines. The fruit has been used as an antibacterial, antifungal, astringent, diuretic, a liver tonic, among other things.  The stem or bark is also used as an astringent and as an anti-malarial drug.

  • In the garden it is used as a border shrub, foundation plant, hedge and in gardens designed to attract birds.