Cornus Mas – Corneliancherry ‘Golden Glory’
By MaryAnn Fink
(This article was first published in The Gateway Gardener March 2007 issue)
Early spring is a transitional time. Winter loosens her chilling grip, worn landscapes recover with spring’s healing touch and anxious but optimistic gardeners slip into an amnesic state. Marking the start of this recovery period, the Corneliancherry reveals her yellow-colored blossoms. Blossoming shortly after the witchhazel flowers and before the forsythia blooms, she cheers the milder weather with fistfuls of tiny golden pompoms. Although the flowers may last only from one to three weeks depending on the weather, the flower puffs massed together will catch an onlooker’s eye, even from a distance.
Each pompom is a cluster of sulfur blossoms forming a miniature bouquet. Each bouquet is a gathering of delicate flowers that, when fully open, look like little star-shaped pillows that showcase tiny yellow crowns of stamens. Although each flower is less than one-quarter inch in diameter, when the Corneliancherry is in full bloom, it is a sight to behold! It does not have the showy floral bracts of other more familiar dogwood cousins, but these flowers, clustered heaviest on the outer branches, offer an almost angelic halo effect.
Naturally found on the edge of deciduous forests and brushlands, it is comfortable in naturalistic settings. The ‘Golden Glory’ selection does tend to bloom heavier and exhibit a more upright habit than the species. Its brushy, shrublike habit of many arching branches seeming to radiate almost from a central point distinguishes this Plant of Merit. The stems twist and turn as they mature, sometimes developing slightly exfoliating bark.
Take advantage of this unusual growth pattern and dense branching by placing it in transitional areas between manicured and naturalized areas or consider grouping several together for a living screen. Pruning can offer a more formal look, but may decrease flowering.
In late summer and early fall, the leafy canopy shields beautiful one-inch oval fruits that pass through various color stages. These stages include a semi-transparent red for which the Corneliancherry gets its common name. When you plant multiple shrubs, they produce oblong fruits in large quantities. The fruits may be used for making jellies and preserves.
A multi-season performer, Corneliancherry is perfect for weekend retreats, residential
landscape, small city gardens, and formal settings. The season-long attractive leaves are semi-lustrous and medium to dark green. Slightly smaller than C. kousa dogwood, the leaves have the typical dogwood venation. Some resources mention fall color as a feature, but this is an unpredictable attribute that varies with the season. With such a winning personality and reliable performance, its no wonder this dogwood is a Plant of Merit!
Zone: USDA Hardiness Zone 4-8
Size: 15-20 tall
Bloom Color: SulfurLocation: Full sun to partial shade
Water requirements: Average
Care: May be pruned to grow as a small bush
Environmental impact: No invasive tendencies in the lower Midwest
MaryAnn Fink was coordinator of the Plants of Merit program, operated under the umbrella of Missouri Botanical Garden and Powell Garden in the Kansas City region, and in cooperation with University of Missouri Extension. She is now a garden designer, educator, writer and speaker, and you can enjoy her gardening blog at http://www.maryannfink.com/