Japanese Cornel Dogwood (Sanshuyu)
Japanese Cornel Dogwood (Sanshuyu)
Japanese Cornel Dogwood (Sanshuyu)

Japanese Cornel Dogwood (Sanshuyu)

Regular price $5.00 Sale

Cornus officinalis

Origin: East Asia

Improvement status: Landrace

Seeds per packet: 5


Life cycle: Perennial

The Japanese cornel dogwood, or Japanese cornelian cherry, is a late-winter-blooming East Asian dogwood that produces loads of bright red olive-shaped fruit which are both edible and medicinal. It's called sansuyu in Korean, shān zhū yú in Chinese, and sanshuyu in Japanese. This is not the same species as the standard cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), which is native to the other end of the Eurasian continent (from France to the Caucasus Mountains), though the fruit are similar in appearance and have similar uses. Japanese cornel dogwood has showy flaking bark and explodes in tiny yellow flowers every late winter or early spring. Trees can reach 26 feet tall, but it's best to prune them if your goal is to harvest the fruit.

Researchers have validated a wide range of medicinal uses for this species, most impressively a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study finding that an herbal formula containing mostly Cornus officinalis is effective and safe for treating erectile dysfunction. Another study found it improves sperm motility. An extract from the plant has been found to improve the creation of new neurons in the brain (neurogenisis) and new blood vessels (angiogenesis). These are just a few of the positive health outcomes associated with medicinale use of this plant. The juice of the fruit is high in potassium, calcium, sodium, iron, zinc, manganese, and copper — notably higher than the juice of more commonly consumed fruits like plums, pears, and apples.

These seeds were foraged by EFN co-founder Nate Kleinman and our friend Dylan Bruce (of Circadian Organics in Wisconsin) from an ornamental planting in southeastern Pennsylvania.

GROWING TIPS: Cornus officinalis seeds require a long cold-moist stratifcation period of between 3 and 5 months. Seeds should be planted immediately after, but can be expected to germinate irregularly and slowly. They may not sprout for 18 months! But they'll make up for it by growing quickly once they do. Trees should be protected from predators when young, and planted in rich, acidic soil in full or partial sun. They'll be grateful for some afternoon shade in warmer areas.