This winter-flowering dogwood is brightening up the Gilbert Carter Area.
The dogwoods (Cornus) are usually admired for either their coloured winter stems, or summer flower, while a few, including Cornus officinalis, have valuable winter flower. This native of Japan and Korea is one of 45 species of trees and shrubs from grassland, woodland, rocky slopes and marshland of mainly the northern hemisphere. It is a vigorous, spreading shrub which can reach 5m in height and spread, and has distinctive rough, flaking bark. In mid-winter it produces umbels of small, star-shaped, yellow flowers, each encased in a bract on leafless stems prior to leaf emergence. These are followed by oblong-ovoid, edible glossy fruits which ripen to brilliant red. This species is closely allied to the neighbouring Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), which flowers slightly later.