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Cornus mas 'Flava': 'Flava' Cornelian-Cherry

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein and Deborah R. Hilbert


Cornelian-cherry is a slow-growing, small tree or large shrub preferring sun or partial shade and a well-drained soil. Flowers are produced in northern areas but most of the south lacks the chilling hours required to set flower buds. 'Spring Glow' is the one cultivar which will flower in the south. The growth rate is moderate and young plants transplant easily. Bark is very showy and is often displayed by removing lower foliage. A height of 15 to 25 feet and spread of 12 to 18 feet can be expected, eventually. The yellow flowers produced in very early spring are similar to Forsythia and are followed by large, yellow fruit on this cultivar which is edible and partially hidden by the foliage. The fall color is red. Cornelian-cherry responds well to pruning and may be used as a hedge plant.

Figure 1. Mature Cornus mas 'Flava': 'Flava' Cornelian-Cherry
Figure 1.  Mature Cornus mas 'Flava': 'Flava' cornelian-cherry.


General Information

Scientific name: Cornus mas

Pronunciation: KOR-nus mass

Common name(s): 'Flava' cornelian-cherry

Family: Cornaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 5A through 8A (Figure 2)

Origin: not native to North America

Invasive potential: not assessed/incomplete assessment

Uses: hedge; specimen; deck or patio; container or planter

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range.



Height: 15 to 25 feet

Spread: 12 to 18 feet

Crown uniformity: symmetrical

Crown shape: round

Crown density: moderate

Growth rate: slow

Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite (Figure 3)

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: ovate

Leaf venation: pinnate, bowed

Leaf type and persistence: deciduous

Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: red

Fall characteristic: showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage



Flower color: yellow

Flower characteristics: showy


Fruit shape: oval

Fruit length: 0.5 to 1 inch

Fruit covering: fleshy

Fruit color: yellow

Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns

Pruning requirement: little required

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: green

Current year twig thickness: medium

Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade

Soil tolerances: sand; loam; clay; acidic; alkaline; well-drained

Drought tolerance: moderate

Aerosol salt tolerance: low


Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: yes

Outstanding tree: yes

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant

Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

The once popular species has fallen out of the trade recently but deserves a comeback. It is pest free and grows well on a variety of soil including clay. Soil should be kept moist with good drainage. Mulching encourages better root growth and moderate drought tolerance, but it is not considered highly drought tolerant by any means. Grows in sun to part shade. Use it as a specimen or in a monoculture group planting or shrub border. The fruit makes an excellent tart jelly and also attracts birds. Makes an excellent patio tree in the yard and should be planted more.

Several cultivars are listed but may not be readily available: 'Alba'—white fruit; 'Aureo-Elegantissima'—leaves bordered in yellow, green and pink; 'Elegantissima'—leaves yellow, green and pink; 'Fructu Violaceo'—purple fruits; 'Macrocarpa'—larger fruits; 'Nana'—dwarf, three feet tall, 'Variegata'—leaves with white variegations; 'Xanthocarpa'—yellow fruit. One of the best for the southern United States is 'Spring Glow' which has a low chilling requirement and beautiful flowers, handsome, leathery foliage which looks good until frost. Cornus officinalis would be a better choice for the south if you can find it.


Several borers will attack dogwood. Try to keep the trees healthy with regular fertilization. Indications of borer problems are holes in the trunk, leaves smaller than normal, and dieback of the crown.

Dogwood club gall midge causes galls at the branch tips. The leaves on affected branch tips may be distorted and the branch may fail to form a flower bud. Prune out the galls as soon as they are seen.

Leaf miners cause brown blister-like mines on the undersides of leaves. The adult leaf miner skeletonizes the leaves.

Scales can build up to large numbers before being detected. Horticultural oil will help control overwintering stages.

Aphids may be controlled by spraying them with a strong stream of water from the garden hose.


Most of the diseases listed are seen most often on Cornus florida. However other dogwoods are susceptible to the diseases listed.

Early symptoms of dogwood canker are smaller and paler leaves. Leaves on infected branches are red earlier in the fall. At first the symptoms appear only on the infected side of the tree but become more general as the canker enlarges. There is no chemical control for the disease. Avoid trunk wounds during and after planting.

Crown canker is associated with wet soils and can be controlled with appropriate fungicides.

Flower and leaf blight caused by Botrytis cinerea attacks fading bracts, especially during wet weather. Infected flower parts fall on the leaves spreading the infection.

A large number of leaf spots attack dogwood. Clean up and dispose of infected leaves.

Powdery mildew covers the leaves with a fine white coating.

Leaf scorch occurs during hot, dry, windy weather. This condition looks like a disease. Scorch symptoms are drying and browning of the leaf margins, or, in more serious cases, drying and browning of the interveinal area.

Publication #ENH355

Release Date:February 26, 2024

Related Collections

Part of Southern Trees Fact Sheets

  • Critical Issue: 1. Agricultural and Horticultural Enterprises
Organism ID

About this Publication

This document is ENH355, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006 and January 2024. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture; and Deborah R. Hilbert, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Department of Environmental Horticulture; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Michael Andreu
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