The “strawberry” of the dogwood tree isn’t a real “strawberry” of course…more correctly considered a “cornelian cherry”. 

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Yesterday, on Sunday at a neighborhood playground, we spotted this strawberry like fruit all over a tree and on the playground floor. One family was examining the fruit and the mother said “kimochi warui”…gross…like a poisonous toadstool growing on a tree!

It was the cornelian cherry or “strawberry” or the Japanese Strawberry Dogwood tree (Cornus Kousa).

Scientific Classification: C. alba (Tatarian dogwood) / C. alba ‘Argenteo-marginata’ (Silver-edged dogwood) / C.alba ‘Sibirica’ (Siberian dogwood) / C. canadensis (Bunchberry)

The Asiatic dogwoods are prominent in Japanese gardens. Planted near the house as a specimen, the bushy Kousa dogwood bears flowers on the upper side of its branches. The Japanese cornelian cherry is frequently situated in garden corners where its blossoms are the first sign of spring. Both deciduous trees can be located near the base of a hill, where their spreading branches, pruned to accentuate their arching shape, will follow the line of the hillside; or they can be placed against dark backgrounds in order to intensify their pale flowers.

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The Kousa dogwood is native to both Korea and Japan. It reaches a maximum height of 15 to 20 feet and spreads 8 to 10 feet wide. Great quantities of snowy-white flowers, 3 to 4 inches across, cover its horizontal branches in early summer, about a month later than native American dog-woods bloom. The bark of the tree peels in oddly shaped patches, disclosing paler bark beneath. Its leaves, which unfold before the flowers, are pointed ovals, 4 inches long, that turn scarlet in fall. In autumn, the Kousa dogwood bears red, strawberry-like fruit.

The Japanese cornelian cherry is a dense shrubby tree that grows slowly when young, but the rate increases with time, and the tree eventually reaches a height of 15 to 25 feet. Clusters of 3/4-inch yellow flowers blossom at the tips of branches in early spring, before the oval 3-inch leaves appear. Oval red fruits, resembling cherries, ripen in summer.

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HOW TO GROW. Both the Kousa dogwood and the
Japanese cornelian cherry are hardy in Zones 5-8. They tolerate partial shade but do best in full sun and grow in any moist, but well-drained, rich soil. The Kousa dogwood may be pruned in early spring, but keep pruning to a minimum as wounds heal slowly. The cornelian cherry should not be pruned until after blossoms fade, since the flowers appear on the previous year’s growth. Propagate from seeds or from cuttings of mature wood taken in late summer.

More info below from this source.

  1. Peter LaRochelle said:

    Do you know of anyone who has a recipe for kousa dogwood tree fruit wine? Wikipedia mentioned that it is used for wine making as do a number of apparently plagiarized articles on virtually every other source, but so far I am the only person I know that has tried it and so far it isn’t going well. I needlessly added oak leaves for tannin but it has more than enough tannin on it’s own and the fruit MUST be used immediately or it’s a fruit fly fest.

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