Kousa Dogwood Berries
Inventory, lb : 0
Kousa Dogwood berries are small, globular fruits, averaging 2 to 4 centimeters in diameter, and are made up of 20 to 40 individual carpels that join together to make a somewhat uniform, spherical shape. The fruits are connected to slender and elongated, fibrous stems averaging 7 to 10 centimeters in length, and have an unusual, ridged appearance. The skin is rough, covered in small bumps, and has a gritty, mealy, and unpleasant texture if consumed. The skin also transitions from green, orange-red, to dark red when ripe, and at maturity, the fruit will have a soft, giving consistency when lightly pressed. Underneath the delicate, thin skin, the flesh has a slippery, custard-like consistency and a bright orange-yellow hue, encasing a few to many small seeds. When consumed, the skin of Kousa Dogwood berries is discarded due to its astringent nature, and the flesh has a unique, sweet flavor reminiscent of stone fruit, mango, and persimmon.
Kousa Dogwood berries are available in the late summer through fall.
Kousa Dogwood berries, botanically classified as Cornus kousa, grow on small, deciduous trees or shrubs belonging to the Cornaceae family. Also known as Japanese dogwood, Chinese dogwood, and Korean dogwood, Kousa Dogwood is native to multiple regions in Asia and has become a highly popular ornamental tree in the United States. There are over sixty-five varieties of dogwood found around the world, many with edible fruits, and due to the delicate nature and short shelf life of the fruit, they are not cultivated commercially and are primarily discovered through foraging. Kousa translates from Japanese to mean “dogwood,” and the Asian variety is one of the most popular cultivars, favored for its ornamental flowers and sweet fruit that is consumed fresh out-of-hand.
Kousa Dogwood berries contain some calcium and antioxidants. The fruits are also used in traditional Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, an aid to cleansing the liver, and an ingredient to help improve energy levels.
Kousa Dogwood berries are primarily eaten fresh, out-of-hand. The skin is edible but is often discarded due to its unpleasant, grainy texture and bitter taste. To consume, the stem is removed, and the flesh is simply sucked from the skin. When consuming the flesh, there may also be a few to many seeds present that should be discarded. In addition to fresh eating, Kousa Dogwood berries can be utilized in baked goods such as bread, muffins, and pies or cooked into jams and jellies, but removing the seeds from the flesh is very tedious and time-consuming. In Asia, the fruits are also sometimes fermented into wine or juiced and mixed into beverages. Kousa Dogwood berries should be harvested directly off the tree and are recommended to be consumed immediately for the best quality and flavor as the fruits are highly perishable.
Kousa dogwood trees are highly valued for their ornamental nature, displaying showy fruits and flowers in the fall and spring. When blooming, the large white “flower petals” seen on the tree are actually bracts or leaves that are centered around a tiny cluster of yellow-green flowers. These bracts and small flower clusters are found all over the tree, creating a beautiful, floral appearance. The trees are so valued for their ornamental nature, that in the early 20th century the United States gifted Japan sixty trees belonging to the North American dogwood variety known as Cornus florida. The gift was a symbol of friendship and an act of reciprocation as Japan once gifted the United States flowering cherry trees as an act of goodwill.
Kousa Dogwood trees are native to multiple regions in Asia, including forests of China, Japan, and Korea. The trees have been growing wild since ancient times, and the variety was then introduced to the United States in 1875, naturalizing in New York state. Today Kousa Dogwood trees are primarily utilized as an ornamental variety and are found growing in home gardens and forests along the east coast of the United States. In Asia and the United States, the fruits are found through foraging, and the fruits in the photograph above were foraged in Indiana.
Recipes that include Kousa Dogwood Berries. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Edible Terrain||Kousa Dogwood Frozen Yogurt|
|Harvest and Yarn||Chai Kousa (dogwoood) Jam|
|Less Noise-More Green||Foraging for Kousa Dogwood Berries and Muffin|