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Cornus capitata - Wall. ex Roxb.

Bentham's Cornel

AuthorWall. ex Roxb. Botanical references11, 200, 266
FamilyCornaceae GenusCornus
SynonymsBenthamia capitata - (Wall.)Nakai.
Benthamia fragifera - Lindl.
Benthamidia capitata - (Wall.)Hara.
Dendrobenthamia capitata - Hutch.
Known HazardsNone known
RangeE. Asia - China to the Himalayas.
HabitatForests and shrubberies to 3400 metres in the Himalayas[51]. Moist hillsides at elevations of 1700 - 2600 metres in Nepal[272]. Evergreen and mixed forests, 1000 - 3200 metres[266].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple iconapple iconapple icon 4 (1-5) Medicinal Ratingapple icon 1 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics

icon of man icon of decid tree An evergreen Tree growing to 12m by 12m at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 8. It is in leaf all year, in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen from September to November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Habitats

Woodland Garden; Canopy; Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit.

Fruit - raw or cooked. A bitter-sweet flavour[2, 105, 183], tasting like an over-ripe banana[166]. The fruit can also be used in preserves[51, 146]. The fruit is about 25mm in diameter[200], it is fleshy with a number of seeds and a tough slightly bitter skin[K]. Our experience is that some trees can produce quite pleasant tasting fruits, but many others produce fruit with a distinct and unpleasant bitterness[K]. The fruit ripens in late autumn to early winter and will fail to ripe properly if the weather is very cold[K].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Astringent.

The bark is used medicinally[266]. No further information is given, though the bark is a source of tannin which is used as an astringent[K].

Other Uses

Fuel; Tannin; Wood.

The branches and leaves are a source of tannin[266]. Wood - very hard, close grained but warps when being seasoned. Used mainly for fuel[158, 272] and for making tools[266]..

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any soil of good or moderate fertility[1], ranging from acid to shallow chalk[200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Succeeds in full sun or light shade[[188]. Prefers semi-shade[219]. This species is hardy to between -5 and -10c[184], it grows very well in S.W. England, self-sowing and fruiting prolifically in Cornish woodland gardens[11, 49, 59, , 104, 182] and doing well by the coast where it tolerates sea winds[182]. Plants are not hardy in the London area, being killed even when on a south-facing wall[11]. Another report says that it succeeds as far north as Edinburgh. Squirrels are very fond of this fruit[166]. This species has been known to hybridize with C. kousa, the cultivar 'Norman Hadden' could be such a hybrid[182]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed[80, 113]. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors[80, 164]. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 - 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year[164]. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification[80, 164]. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more[164]. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage[78]. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months[78].

Links

References

[K] Ken Fern
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1] F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press 1951
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).

[2] Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications 1972 ISBN 0-486-20459-6
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.

[11] Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray 1981
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.

[49] Arnold-Forster. Shrubs for the Milder Counties. 0
Trees and shrubs that grow well in Cornwall and other mild areas of Britain. Fairly good, a standard reference book.

[51] Polunin. O. and Stainton. A. Flowers of the Himalayas. Oxford Universtiy Press 1984
A very readable and good pocket guide (if you have a very large pocket!) to many of the wild plants in the Himalayas. Gives many examples of plant uses.

[59] Thurston. Trees and Shrubs in Cornwall. 0
Trees and shrubs that succeed in Cornwall based on the authors own observations. Good but rather dated.

[78] Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co 1948
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.

[80] McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed. Grower Books 1985 ISBN 0-901361-21-6
Does not deal with many species but it is very comprehensive on those that it does cover. Not for casual reading.

[104] RHS. The Garden. Volume 111. Royal Horticultural Society 1986
Snippets of information from the magazine of the RHS, including an article in Crambe maritima and another on several species thought to be tender that are succeeding in a S. Devon garden.

[105] Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing 1976
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.

[113] Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press 1987 ISBN 0942375009
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.

[146] Gamble. J. S. A Manual of Indian Timbers. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh 1972
Written last century, but still a classic, giving a lot of information on the uses and habitats of Indian trees. Not for the casual reader.

[158] Gupta. B. L. Forest Flora of Chakrata, Dehra Dun and Saharanpur. Forest Research Institute Press 1945
A good flora for the middle Himalayan forests, sparsly illustrated. Not really for the casual reader.

[164] Bird. R. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 4. Thompson and Morgan. 1990
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. A good article on Yuccas, one on Sagebrush (Artemesia spp) and another on Chaerophyllum bulbosum.

[166] Taylor. J. The Milder Garden. Dent 1990
A good book on plants that you didn't know could be grown outdoors in Britain.

[182] Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray 1992 ISBN 0-7195-5043-2
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.

[183] Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications 1990 ISBN 0-9628087-0-9
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.

[184] Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs. Pan Books 1989 ISBN 0-330-30258-2
Excellent photographs and a terse description of 1900 species and cultivars.

[200] Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press 1992 ISBN 0-333-47494-5
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

[219] Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V. Gardening on Walls Collins 1983 ISBN 0-00-219220-0
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.

[266] Flora of China 1994
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.

[272] Manandhar. N. P. Plants and People of Nepal Timber Press. Oregon. 2002 ISBN 0-88192-527-6
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.

 

 

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