Kousa Dogwood Fruit, Tropical Flavor in Temperate Climates


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Cornus kousa, Kousa Dogwood Flowers and Leaves
Cornus kousa, Kousa Dogwood Flowers and Leaves (Photo By: Valerie75 / Wikimedia Commons)

Kousa Dogwood fruit is the primary edible part of Kousa Dogwood Cornus kousa), which is a small tree or shrub native to Asia that is now a very popular landscape plant in the US. It is also called Japanese Dogwood, Korean Dogwood, and Chinese Dogwood, there are many cultivated varieties in existence.  The only place it has naturalized  in the US is New York state but it can be grown reliably in many other states in the US.  It currently has no major disease or insect problems in the US and is hardy down to USDA Zone 5.

Kousa Dogwood Fruit and Leaves Edibility and Culinary Use

Cornus kousa, Kousa Dogwood Fruit
Cornus kousa, Kousa Dogwood Fruit

The primary edible part of the Kousa Dogwood is its red berries which are usually produced in abundance in late summer.  The taste is very good and unique for a temperate climate fruit.  I always said it tastes like a cross between a mango and pumpkin.  The fruits are about the size of a strawberry but round.  The problem is there are usually a lot of seeds inside the fruit so you often don’t get as much of the edible part as you want.  Good thing the trees usually have a lot of fruits.  Selecting the best, ripest fruits makes a big difference as far as taste and texture goes.  The fruit should be bright red and slightly squishy or soft to the touch.  If it is hard then it’s filled with more starch then sugar and doesn’t taste nearly as good.  The best way that I have found to eat Kousa Dogwood fruit is pull off the stem and suck the pulp right out, then spit out the seeds.  It’s a great shot of flavor.  The skin is edible but rough and grainy, so it’s usually best to avoid eating that part.  The fruit is often used in pies and jelly.  The young leaves are also edible when cooked but I have never eaten them.

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Health Benefits

Cornus kousa, Kousa Dogwood Flowering
Cornus kousa, Kousa Dogwood Flowering (Photo by: Frank Vincentz / Wikimedia Commons)

More research should be done on the health benefits of the Kousa Dogwood fruit.  It is known to contain calcium and fat similar to avocados.  They also contain anthocyanins which are antioxidants but research is being done to determine weather we get any benefit from these anthocyanins after consumption and digestion of the fruits.

Conclusion

Kousa Dogwood is a reliably grown small tree.  It gives us northerners a taste of tropical flavors.  Not to mention the plant is primarily grown for its flowers which completely cover the tree in spring.  For backyard foragers, find a kousa dogwood and keep an eye on it in late summer.  It will soon be a favorite spot for a late summer snack.


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