Cornelian cherry is a large shrub or multi-stemmed tree native to central and southern Europe, extending into Asia Minor and the Caucasus. It is an ancient species, grown by the Romans for decoration and use. The yellow flowers bloom before leaf flush in early spring and are important to bees; the red berries ripen in autumn and are used in healthy and delicious preserves; while the large seeds are a source of high quality oil. The wood, hard and so dense that it doesn’t float in water, has been used for making tools.
For some reason Cornelian cherry has seldom been even tried in Finland, despite having been grown in neighbouring countries for centuries. At Mustila there is only a single old shrub at the north edge of Alppiruusulaakso (Rhododendron Valley). However, both this individual and several young plantings have thrived, though so far have remained small. They are at their most beautiful when they flower in early spring, usually at the beginning of May.
Today, important breeding programmes are being carried out in Austria, Latvia and Poland, for example, the latter having provided Mustila with trial material. It seems possible that this species might be a useful plant for many purposes at least in southernmost parts of the country, when the most suitable breeding material and varieties have first been identified