Friday, March 16, 2012

Cornus mas in bloom in Durham!

Day 58
The Daily DuBrule
Cornus mas. Cornelian Cherry dogwood. Ever heard of it? If you live in Durham, or if you drive through Durham (CT) every day, you will at least recognize the pictures. This is a really cool tree that blooms REALLY early, usually the end of March. It's been flowering for a couple of days now.
 Anyone who knows plants, when they see these pictures (taken today, I must add, at 6 p.m) will know why this is unusual. So I pull into a parking lot of a strip mall and walk over to this tree. A guy is sitting in a car in the parking lot. I notice him. I think to myself "he must be wondering what I am doing with a camera standing inches from the rather insignificant flowers of this tree and snapping photos for 5 minutes."  Obviously, he is not a horticulturalist, fascinated with the concept of this flowering tree, used as a street tree in Durham, blooming at lest 2-3 weeks early! Amazing!
Anyway, I got that out of my system. According to Michael Dirr, the expert in all woody plants, "few dogwoods are as durable as this underutilized, yellow-flowered, red fruited species." He goes on to say "Bright yellow flowers open on naked branches in March (where he lives, which is much further south than here I must add) and are the only show in town. The 5/8" long, ovoid, bright cherry-red fruit ripen in June and July. They serve as snacks for birds or can be used for preserves and syrup."

Lee Reich, who literally wrote the book on edible fruiting trees for the landscape, writes and teaches about this very interesting tree. The fruit is tart, but quite edible, and has been eaten by humans for centuries. I admit I have never tried the fruit of the Cornelian cherry, but I am thrilled to see these trees in bloom the day before St. Patrick's Day here in central Ct. Together with the star magnolia I saw cracking flowers in Madison, the drifts of daffodils in the shade gardens at Natureworks, and the countless other normally April bloomers that have turned my head in the past few days, all I can say is "damn the torpedoes". Bring it on! For everyone that is worried about what will happen if things bloom and then it gets cold I say ENJOY IT. Be Here Now. Live in the moment. We deserve an insanely early and delicious spring season. Remember last year? Don't we have enough toil and trouble in our lives? Let's just smile gigantic happy smiles and say "Thank you Mother Nature". Que sera sera. I'll take what comes, but give me a warm March anyday and I am a happy gal.


  1. I'm further north, just above Hartford, but no sign of open flowers yet on my two cornelian cherries. Even the branches I cut and brought in for forcing have barely opened after more than a week. I really want to love cornus mas --- such a great little tree--- but it's taking a while for my small young trees to establish and to show me anything!

  2. Mom's Cornus mas is doing beautifully... it's probably a 12 year old or so one, about 12-15 feet tall, and just loaded with flowers when I was visiting last Wednesday. Like you, I'm justing enjoying this early spring... we might get blasted with a frost, but hey, we'll deal with that if it comes. Yay spring!