Plant of the Month - March 2019

Cornus mas

Cornus mas - S Turner
Cornus mas
Photos ©S. Turner

As witch hazels fade, and before showy forsythias come into flower, a special small tree, Cornus mas, produces dainty sprays of up to 25 four-petalled flowers in little yellow puffs, all along its leafless twigs. C. mas is one of the Cornaceae (dogwood) family.

Because of the hardness of its dense wood the ancient Greeks used it to make spears and arrows. The common name, cornelian cherry, comes from the Latin ‘cornu’ meaning ‘horn’. It is known that 7,000 years ago the cherry-like fruits were a food source in Greece, and they are still used in spirits distillation throughout the range of the tree from Belgium to the Caucasus.

C. mas has been in cultivation in Britain since the mid 16th century, when one was recorded at Hampton Court Palace. Several cultivars hold the Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society. In SBG the species grows on the perimeter path, west of the Long Border (Area T) and near the Brocco Bank gate (Area E).

Cornus mas - S Turner

Other Plants to look for in March can be found here

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