Cornus capitata

Scientific name: Cornus capitata

Author: Nathaniel Wallich (1786 – 1854)

Common name: Bentham's Cornel, Himalayan Strawberry Tree

Family: Cornaceae


Cornus capitata   


A golden mantle of blossom covers a specimen of Cornus capitata, Benthams’s Cornel or Himalayan Strawberry Tree above the stone wall, just past the Conifer Cultivars on the Road to the Rock Garden.

Cornus kousa var. kousa is flowering near the sundial and in the Brunet Meadow and Cornus kousa var. chinensis below the Visitor Centre.

We have 20 species and an additional three forms of Cornus on display. Some are from cultivated sources and some are wild collected. They are all from cool-climate areas of the Northern Hemisphere. The United States and Canada, Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, Austria and Spain are represented. Not all are summer flowering, Cornus florida blossomed in spring. A collection of small flowers forms the central ‘button’ and what look like surrounding petals are coloured bracts. Collectively they are known as Cornels or Dogwoods. Many are deciduous with coloured foliage in the autumn or fall. 

Our featured plant has a natural distribution from south-western China to northern India at 1200 to 3400 metres above sea level in forests and shrubberies. It is a little special in that it remains evergreen in mild climates such as here. In winter, large, slightly-spiky, edible, red fruits form giving rise to the ‘Strawberry Tree’ name, though the taste is not as delicious. Mature trees are generally wider that tall, as here, and can reach 16 metres in height.

Discovered by one of our featured plant explorers, Nathaniel Wallich, on an expedition to Nepal and introduced to England in 1825 this species has also been known as Dendrobenthamia capitata and Benthamia capitata. It belongs to a subgroup Benthamidia within the 45 strong genus.