Earlier this summer I learned that all Cornus produce edible fruits and the most palatable are made by Cornus kousa. So when I returned home from Italy, I was sad to see the fruits on my Kousa dogwood had fallen before ripening. Luckily, other trees in the neighborhood faired better.
On this Asian species, the fruits of multiple flowers fuse into a single drupe resembling a large raspberry. Some say the flavor is like apricots, but when I gathered enough courage to taste one, I thought it was similar to mango — sweet with a creamy texture — though there were many seeds and a bit of grittiness.
Plants for a Future, a research and information center which focuses on sustainable horticulture, lists Cornus kousa as one of its top 20 plants. Not only tasty, like all other dogwood fruits it contains high levels of vitamin C, vitamin D, and beta-carotine, as well as antioxidants and anthocyanins.
While feeling brave, I decided to taste the fruit of Cornus florida too. However, the berries of this native tree have a bitter bite, so are better left to the birds.
The foliage on both flowering dogwoods in the front garden is beginning to turn, with the pink-flowering variety showing more color than the white species pictured above. Oddly, though the pink bloomed abundantly this year, it has no berries whatsoever.
In the back garden, Camellia sasanqua ‘Setsugekka’ opened its first bloom this morning. The large, semi-double white flowers are accented with ruffled edges and a bright cluster of golden stamens. Nearby, a large Osmanthus x fortunei, commonly called Fortune’s osmanthus, perfumes the garden with a pungent, fruit-infused fragrance.
With three plants in flower in my shady plot (including the Hemiboea subcapitata featured Tuesday), I hardly know which way to look. Thank goodness the garden is finally on the upswing!