Dogwood berries are a small fruit and a wildlife favorite. The beauty of flowering dogwood trees is undisputed as they decorate landscapes. And you may sometimes wonder, are dogwood berries edible? And are they worth growing in your backyard?
The answer is yes. Most dogwood berries variants in the wild are edible, except for a few varieties we’ll discuss here. Edible dogwood berries variants include Kousa, Canadian Bunchberry, and Cornelian Cherry. It is customary to eliminate the astringent skin of the dogwood berries before eating it, but the meat has a peculiar, sweet flavor resembling stone fruits.
This short guide will help you identify safe-to-eat dogwood berries. Let’s dive in!
Are Dogwood Berries Poisonous to Humans?
Dogwood berries are not poisonous when eaten, but some people report rashes after skin contact with the Dogwood tree.
Dogwood trees have stunning blossoms and unusual fruits, making them a popular ornamental. The berries on most dogwoods are edible, although not all of them are non-toxic.
A variety of dogwood berry sizes and colors are available. Some Dogwood berries are indigenous to the United States, while others are from Asia, like Kousa Dogwood.
Edible Vs. Non-Edible Types of Dogwood Berries
In this section, we’ll help you identify edible and non-edible dogwood berries.
List of Non-Edible Dogwood Berries
Flowering Dogwood – Not Edible
Flowering Dogwood is one of the two most common ornamental types of the dogwood tree. This type is native to the eastern United States and grows well in woodlands and landscapes. Flowering dogwoods thrive in partial shade and prefer the acidic soil of the northeast.
These dogwood berries are not edible and can be poisonous. The berries are astringent and bitter.
White Dogwood and Pink Dogwood Cornus florida – Not Edible
These berry trees have very showy flowers in early spring. This species is cultivated frequently, and you can find different varieties.
The dogwood flowers are usually white, but you may also find pink-flowered varieties. Both pink and white flowered dogwood berries are poisonous.
How to Identify Poisonous Dogwood Berries?
All Dogwood trees feature similarly shaped leaves. They have simple leaves with an ovate shape and prominent leave veins. Ovate leaf shape is a very common leaf shape, so dogwood leaves aren’t easily identified by their leaves. You can only identify poisonous flowering dogwood trees by their fruit clusters.
Here’s what poisonous dogwood berry clusters look like:
These are red clusters of elongated fruits.
How to Not Poison Yourself Eating Berries
List of Edible Dogwood Berries
Kousa Dogwood – Edible Fruit
Kousa dogwood is another ornamental dogwood berry species. This species is native to Asia and is popular because of its small size and strong pest resistance. The berries of this dogwood species are edible and one of the tastiest wild fruits found in the landscape. They bloom in the spring and produce fruits in late summer and early fall.
Cornelian Dogwood – Edible Fruit
Cornelian Dogwood is another berry tree that is commonly sold as a landscape tree. This tree isn’t used as often as the other species mentioned above, but it has great potential in the landscape. It is native to Asia and Europe but adjusts very well in the eastern U.S.
One of the fascinating features of this tree is its early flowering period. It blooms very early and has small yellow flowers.
The fruits of this dogwood berry species are edible. The dark red smooth berries are ripe in summer. Each tasty berry has one has a large seed in the middle. You can use this dogwood berry variety in pies and jams.
How to Identify Edible Dogwood Berries?
Despite having similar bark and leaves, it’s easy to distinguish edible dogwood berries from flowering dogwood trees. This tree has a different flower and fruit schedule than the flowering dogwood. Cornelian dogwood blooms and produces fruits much earlier.
Watch this short identification guide for edible dogwood berries.
How To Eat Dogwood Berries?
Nutritionally, Dogwood berries contain impressive amounts of antioxidants. Slice or break the fruit in half and scoop out the juicy flesh in the center to eat the fruit. Alternatively, many people munch on them as a snack and suck out the flesh with their mouths.
What To Make With Dogwood Berries?
You can use edible dogwood berries to make baked goods such as bread, muffins, and pies. You can also make jams and jellies, but removing seeds from the berries is tedious and time-consuming.
In Asia, the edible dogwood berries are also fermented into wine or juiced and mixed into beverages.
Here’s our favorite dogwood jam recipe;
- 1 kg Dogwood
- 1-1.2 kg Sugar
- 200-250 ml of Water
This is a tasty dessert, an excellent filling for pies, muffins, pancakes, and other dishes. Also, dogwood berries have a very good effect on health.
First, you have to sort out the dogwood berries, leaving only good berries. Putting bad berries isn’t a smart idea because they can ruin jam taste.
Wash the dogwood berries with running water and dry with a towel. Then, get ready to prepare the syrup. Add sugar gradually to boiling water until it is dissolved.
Next, pour dogwood berries into a saucepan with syrup, cook for a minute, and then remove from heat.
Leave the berries in this syrup for 6-8 hours. Then, put on the stove again and bring to a boil over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Dogwood berry jam is now ready. And it’s time to prepare the jars. Wash them well, and then pour the job over the jars. Close the jars and put them upside down in a warm corner.
Health Benefits of Eating Dogwood Berries
Traditional Remedy for Dysentery and Diarrhea
Dogwood is a common home remedy for dysentery and diarrhea due to its strong astringent properties.
If you get a dry mouth sensation when eating dogwood berries, it’s because of the astringent tannins shrinking or contracting tissues. This action limits the discharge of fluids and aids recovery from diarrhea or dysentery.
Dogwood berries have excellent restorative properties due to their high mineral content. Being rich in calcium, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, zinc, and a good source of sodium, dogwood promotes recovery following illness.
Regular consumption of dogwood berries may help improve liver function by exercising a strong hepatoprotective action.
Supports Kidney Function
According to Chinese medicine, dogwood is a diuretic. This means it promotes normal kidney function by stimulating urine production. It also helps reduce high blood pressure and promotes detoxification.
Antibacterial and Antiviral Properties
Dogwood berries are ideal for cold and flu prevention because they contain high amounts of vitamin C. This vitamin is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial agent.
What do Dogwood Berries taste like?
The flesh of dogwood berries has a unique, sweet flavor similar to stone fruit, mango, and persimmon. When consumed, the skin of dogwood berries is discarded because it’s bitter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are white dogwood berries edible?
No, white dogwood berries are not edible. Some reports say they are toxic. These berries are also very astringent and bitter.
Is it safe to eat blue dogwood berries?
Yes, blue dogwood berries are edible and can be consumed safely.
What color and shape are dogwood berries?
Dogwood berries come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. These berries are often bright red, although other colors include black, dark blue, purple, white, and gray.
Species like Kousa dogwood, Himalayan dogwood, and Silky dogwood are popular for their showy blossoms and produce red berries that don’t turn blue or black with age. Conversely, dogwood varieties with clusters of flowers have ripening berries that usually darken as the season progresses.
Red, blue-black, or white dogwood berries are the most common colors for fully matured fruits. Some dogwood berries are suitable for human consumption, but the majority are fit for consumption by birds. In addition, some dogwood species can harm pets if not handled properly.
Are dogwood berries poisonous to dogs?
Dogwood berries aren’t poisonous to dogs, but they can irritate dogs’ stomachs and intestines. In large quantities, dogwood berries can induce vomiting and diarrhea, and their seeds may cause intestinal blockage in small dogs.