Cornus officinalis
Common Name: Japanese cornelian cherry 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Cornaceae
Native Range: China, Korea, Japan
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: March
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Deer


Grow in acidic, organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Some afternoon shade is appreciated in hot summer climates such as the St. Louis area. Best performance occurs in cool summer climates. Provide consistent moisture and mulch root zone. Promptly remove root suckers to control spread.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cornus officinalis, commonly called Japanese cornel dogwood, is native to China, Japan and Korea. It usually grows as a large, spreading, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub to 15-25’ tall. It also may be grown as a small tree. It is very similar to Cornus mas, except it grows with a slightly more open habit, flowers one week earlier, has more attractive bark and often has brown hair tufts in the vein axils on the leaf undersides. Ovate to elliptic, dark green leaves (to 4 3/4” long). Variable fall color ranges from drab pale yellow to attractive reddish-purple. Yellow flowers appear in late winter to very early spring before the leaves in 3/4” wide clusters (umbels). Flowers are followed in fall by oblong red fruits (drupes) that are technically edible but astringent. Exfoliating bark has tones of gray and brown.

Genus name comes from the Latin word cornus meaning "horn", possibly in reference to the strength and density of the wood. Cornus is also the Latin name for cornelian cherry (Cornus mas). May also be related to the Greek kerasos meaning "cherry".

Specific epithet means sold in shops. Applied to plants with real or supposed medicinal use.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Effective in foundations, shrub borders, woodland gardens, bird gardens or naturalized areas. Grow as a hedge. Train as a small tree.