Cornus officinalis

Scientific name: Cornus officinalis

Author: Sieb. & Zucc.

Common name: Japanese Cornelian Cherry, Shanzhuyu (Sour Mountain Date)

Family: Cornaceae


Cornus officinalis   


Venture to the Brunet Meadow and, between the large Chestnut and the road dividing off the Brunet Pavilion, look for a slender tree with weeping branches and adorned with ripe, red, fruit. On first glance a weeping crab apple maybe what springs to mind.

From the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, the genus, Cornus, comprises 45 species. These are commonly referred to as Dogwoods or Cornels. Many of the dogwoods, found elsewhere in the Garden, are grown for their numerous pink or white, flower-like bracts and for their stunning autumn colour.

The Sour Mountain Date does produce attractive bright yellow flowers on bare wood and autumn toned leaves. However, its greatest charm is the fruit. Reputed to have aided the longevity and exceptional health of Emperor Qian Long of the Manchu Dynasty (1644-1911), these fruits have been much celebrated in Chinese herbal medicine. Content in just viewing the beauty this small tree exhibits, it makes quite a tonic for one’s spirits.