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Cornus mas - Cornelian Cherry

Common Name: Cornelian Cherry[1]

Scientific Name: Cornus mas

On March 31, 1774 Thomas Jefferson recorded in his garden diary planting four "Ciriege Corniole" or Cornelian Cherry trees along with sixteen other varieties of fruit trees and vegetables.[2]

The Cornelian Cherry is a native to southern Europe and western Asia and has been cultivated since ancient times for the fruit, which is excellent for preserves and syrup. However, by the nineteenth century, the use of this fruit was already in decline, and it wasn't until the twentieth century that gardeners appreciated its ornamental features (a winter flower display and attractive red fruits in late summer).[3]


  1. This article is based on Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Betts, Garden Book, 50. Manuscript and transcription at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  3. Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and their Histories (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 58.

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