Saturday, March 2, 2013
A Winter Blooming Tree
The surprising feature of this dogwood is its edible fruit. The "cherries" are 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter and should be picked and allowed to ripen off the tree for four or five days before consuming them. Ripened fruit reportedly tastes much like cranberries, and is rich in phytochemicals and anti-oxidants. We concluded in our discussion this morning that they should make excellent jam. The only problem, as with regular cherries, is keeping the birds from getting more fruit than you do.
The cornelian cherries need full to part sun, well-drained but moisture-retentive soil, and little else to thrive in East Tennessee. The spot where this plant is growing is slightly elevated above a drainage swale on the southwest side of the gardens.
Using these dogwoods in the landscape seems like a no-brainer, provided you have room for a smallish tree. They begin the dogwood season at the end of February, provide edible fruit and exhibit fall color ranging from golden yellow to purplish red. Given that they are carefree once established, these trees should be more widely used in our area.