Did you know? Dogwood has edible fruit!

I’m pictured above with Cornus kousa, a tree that is native to Japan, China and Korea. The fruits are edible, creamy and mildly sweet. They have seeds inside them, but the flesh is creamy and tastes like lychee. The fruits look like compound tetrahedrons. The pink-orange coloring reminds me of rainbow sherbet.

You can also identify a dogwood tree by pulling apart a leaf and looking for strands connecting the veins.

The fruits of the native Pacific Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii, are said to be less tasty, though I haven’t come across them yet myself. The bark can be boiled to make a black dye, the leaves can be dried and smoked, the wood can be used for bow and arrow material, and a decoction of the bark works as a laxative. I recognize Pacific Dogwood by its beautiful flowers.

Image from Wikimedia

I’ve seen a few Cornus kousa dogwood planted in parking lots around northeast Portland, such as at the Wells Fargo Bank on NE MLK Ave, and along city streets, such as by the retail shops at NE 30th & Killingsworth. Even if you’re not in Portland, where have you seen dogwoods?

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34 thoughts on “Did you know? Dogwood has edible fruit!

  1. We have 4 of these trees in our yard and they produce lots and lots of berries. We eat them occasionally, but our chickens love them and they provide feed for them for a couple of months.

  2. Do you know this use to be a very big tree before they crucified Jesus on one of these trees. Then God made these trees small and weak so they could never use this tree again. The flower represents the cross, the center is the crown on which he wear and the petals have a stain of red on them to represent the blood He shed for our sins. Don’t know much about the berries. blessings to all

  3. Saw this for.the first time today. Asked on FB if anyone knew what it.was, because I had taken aND posted a picture. Someone came back and said Dogwood and so I Googled.it. Thank you.

  4. We live in Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia and our tree is loaded with fruit. We were wondering if they are safe to eat? Do you have any recipes for any other uses too?

  5. I was trying to ID this yummy guy that Penny Scout had shown me. Your site came right up. Small world. Thanks for posting.

  6. Hi Becky, We live in SE Portland about a mile from the Willamette. I just found you while looking to identify what I now believe is Pacific Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii, full in fruit. I haven’t tasted the fruit yet but will collect a few and cautiously try it (:

    • Hi Kim! FYI Cornus nuttalli is not listed as a traditional food of this region in any of my field guides or encyclopedias. The indigenous Cornus species that was occasionally eaten is Dwarf Dogwood, aka Bunchberry, Cornus canadensis.

  7. Have tried the fruit, like it but wasn’t sure if it was really safe to eat until now. Have 2 adult trees loaded with fuit about

    email me where to find or send receipts

  8. I have seen this china dogwood every time I do my walking in the morning. Usually the fruits start red by second week of October. I stop bye to pick some and start eating. It does taste good but have a lot of small seeds inside. I think this tree have been here for a long time since the location is former U S Mare Island Shipyard that was close down 1996.

  9. Pingback: Strawberry Tree: Don’t Stop at One | PDXX Collective

  10. I search it from Chinese herbal for your reference; It is called Dendronephthya Japonica Var.chinensis.
    • Food: Fruit is editable, can make wine and vinegar ( I don’t know how to make it).
    • Herb:
    Eat fruit is good to warm up stomach, pass through the blood circulation, and prevent strike;
    Put the leaves on wound, it can get rid of swelling;
    Boiling roots and seeds is good for women’s menstruation and calm stomachache
    • The wood is hard, texture, straight and fine, good to Engraving

  11. The more common variety of Dogwood, the one with the Easter story about the flower’s significance, has only 4 petals with the indentions from the Story, at the tips. It does not produce fruit like this variety with more petals and very little, if any, indention. I have been eating them from city streets here (D.C.) for 20 years and have always wondered if they are a species related to the Lychee, which the fruit resembles. When the skin is dark, dry and slightly loose to the touch, hold the fruit in your hand, like a single grape, and squeeze the contents into your mouth; discard the skin! Delicious!

  12. I have had this dogwood in my yard for years and was wondering if they were edible. I will have to try a couple this august when they become mature. Dawsonville, Georgia

  13. “China girl” and “Milky way” are said to be the most delicious. I planted them last year, waiting until they produce…

  14. Thanks for identifying this plant and that it has fruit. I live in Greenville, SC and have one of these in my backyard. Got it from a tree guy when I moved into my house 10 years ago. It’s covered with the little cherry like fruit. Not a bad taste either. What a surprise. I have a pink flowering dogwood in my front yard but it does not appear to bear fruit. Thanks again, Rich

  15. look out for cornus’ mas, kousa chinensis (better fruit than kousa), elliptica, canadensis, capita, officinalis. and theres also the bunch berry, native to parts of north america.

  16. I’ve been trying to figure out what the heck to do with them. Apparently they get bitter when cooked… makes it tricky cause I was thinking fruit leather as a way to tame the mealiness and strain out all those seeds. They’re just not that great raw. Breaking through that skin reminds me a little of eating a lychee but the fruit is more like an apricot. Hence the fruit leather. Maybe I could just press the flesh through a sieve and mix it with honey without heating it, then try making the leather? It cooks at such a low heat and with the added honey and some lemon maybe it wouldn’t get too bitter?

  17. Dennis,

    When it looks to be a delicious pinky-red!


    Let me know what you think of it!


    Glad you like the makeover! I’ve been tinkering around, trying to find the right visual fit.

    If you saw those fruits on the tree, my guess it was the cultivar like the one I was eating from. Otherwise, there are quite a few different species of dogwood, some of which are native to other regions of the U.S.

  18. No way! While me and my partner were biking I kept seeing all these trees with red fruit on them. I’m SURE this is what they are (:

    Can’t wait to give one a taste!

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