Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Spring or fall, take your pick. The Cornelian cherry is a wonderful seasonal material for floral arrangements.
Despite its common name, the Cornelian cherry isn't even related to the cherry. This is actually a kind of dogwood (Cornus mas).
Very hardy, this is one of the earliest flowering fruit trees. While this will occur in early spring in most locations, it can take place in late winters in milder areas. At that time, its branches are a vision of beauty. They are covered with masses of tiny, bright yellow blooms.
These branches can be used just as you would those of other flowering fruit trees. For earlier blooms, you could even cut some stems and force them indoors for earlier blooms.
The Cornelian cherry is twice as nice in the fall months. During this season, you’ll find numerous uses for its berried stems. The branches are covered with tiny (1/2 inch long), brightly colored fruits in vivid shades of purple, bright red, and yellow. The mahogany red fall foliage also adds a touch to beauty to floral arrangements.
The color and shape of the berries can vary from one variety to another. These may be oval, barrel-shaped, or even pear-shaped. Flava has yellow fruits. John Parkinson, an English writer, mentioned a white-fruited one in a book he published in 1629. But, this one doesn’t seem to be around any more.
In addition to using the berried stems, there are other ways the Cornelian cherries can be employed in floral design. If you have your own plant, you could collect a large number of the fruits and display them in large glass vases just as we often do with cranberries during the fall and winter months.
Historically, these plants have long been in cultivation. This tree was revered by the Romans. Known since prehistoric times, it still grows wild in various parts of Europe.
If you have some space in your garden, it is worthwhile to grow a Cornelian cherry for use in floral arrangements. These stems will not be available commercially. It is not that common.
This long lived plant grows as a small tree, up to 20 feet or so in height. It can also be trained as a multi-stemmed shrub. For floral design purposes, I would recommend the shrub form since this will keep the branches low enough to cut.