With the arrival of spring come the first tentative blossoms. For trees, the Cornelian Cherries are one of the earliest bearers of color, blooming two weeks earlier than most other flowering trees.
The Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas) is a slow-growing, deciduous, small tree or large shrub. Despite what its name suggests, it isn’t a cherry tree at all – it’s a type of dogwood.
Small, yellow flowers emerge on the branches in mid to late March, before the leaves arrive, and often remain long into spring. Similar in appearance to Forsythia, the abundance of yellow blooms cover the bare stems of the tree in small clusters.
Flowers are followed by bright, cherry red fruit, known as cornels, which ripen in June and July.
Interesting Facts about this Tree:
The dense and heavy wood from these trees were used to make tools and weapons, like bows and spears, during the seventh century B.C.
Although not much eaten in the United States, the fruit are still appreciated in Europe and in the Middle East. The acid fruits are sweetened and made into pies, conserves, and sherbets. The food historian Alan Davidson observes that cornels are most appreciated in Turkey, where they are widely available in markets in late summer.
The fruit is used in the distillation of vodka in countries like Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The astringent properties of the fruits make them useful against cardiovascular diseases and they were also used for the treatments of fever, various bowel complaints and cholera.
Legends and Myths
In Turkish legend, they are known as “the tree that deceived Satan.” When the Devil saw that the Cornelian Cherry tree was the first tree to bloom in early spring, he assumed it would be the first to bear and camped beneath it to secure the fruit for himself. After a long vigil, he realized that the fruit ripened not first but last, in late summer!
Ancient Roman legend maintains that Romulus, when seeking to establish the city that would be Rome, hurled a spear made from Cornelian Cherry wood, from the Aventine hill. Where it struck the ground, a Cornelian cherry tree rose to mark the destined spot.
Cornelius Cherry was also traditionally believed to be the wood from which the Trojan Horse, instrumental in the fall of Troy, was manufactured.
CORNELIUS CHERRY BUDS by Soul Full Sanctuary Photography (Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison, WI)
"This is how love ripens us -- by warming us from within, inspiring us to break out of our shell, and lighting our way through the dark passage to new birth."
~ John Welwood
NATURE'S POETRY by Soul Full Sanctuary Photography
(Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison, WI)
"It is written on the arched sky; it looks out from every star. It is the poetry of Nature; it is that which uplifts the spirit within us."