Cornus sanguinea

Cornus sanguinea

The Bloody dogwood or dogwood (Cornus sanguinea L., 1753) is a shrub species belonging to the Cornaceae family.

Systematics –
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Cornales Order, Cornaceae Family, Cornus Genus, C. sanguinea Species.
Below are the subspecies present in Italy.
– Cornus sanguinea subsp. australis (C.A. Mey.) Jáv. which is distinguished by the lower leaf page exclusively with dense hairs in the shape of an open compass or spacecraft, with a very small ± central stem; the compass hairs have arms of variable length and sometimes one of the 2 arms is so short as to be barely visible so that the hair seems simple and close to the leaf page. You have to observe them at high magnification;
– Cornus sanguinea subsp. hungarica (Kárpáti) Soó, which is diting due to the lower leaf page with bifurcated hairs together with simple hairs;
– Cornus sanguinea L. subsp. sanguinea, which is distinguished by an inferior leaf page with only simple hairs, often frizzy.

Etymology –
The term Cornus comes from the Indo-European root kar being hard, passed to the Latin cornus corno, to emphasize the hard and robust wood.
The specific sanguinea epithet comes from sanguine, from sanguis blood: due to the color of the young branches, similar to that of congealed blood.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Bloody dogwood is a plant with a distribution that includes Europe and Asia Minor. It is widespread in Central Europe and in Italy it is present throughout the territory.
The habitat of this plant is that which goes from the plain up to 1,300 m above sea level between the rows of trees, in the mixed deciduous woods, at the edge of the meadows, in the spots by the water. It prefers fertile and fresh soils; pioneer that appears among the first woody in abandoned land and, above all calcareous, where it easily forms associations with other native species.

Description –
Cornus sanguinea is a shrub that can grow up to a maximum of 5 m.
The leaves are oval and can reach a length of ten centimeters, with curved ribs and petioles that do not have hair.
The flowers that form after foliation are hermaphroditic, pedunculated, creamy-white in color, forming flat apical umbels of 4 ÷ 5 cm in diameter; they have a bicarpellar inferior ovary and a chalice with increased segments, not very evident; the corolla is composed of 4 free, linear petals, 5 ÷ 6 mm long, hairy underneath. They have 4 stamens, as long as the corolla, slightly exceeding the style. They have an unpleasant smell, but which attracts a lot of insects.
The antesis is between April and June but it can bloom a second time with a favorable climate.
The fruit is a spherical drupe of 5-6 (8) mm, inedible, of a purple-blackish color, crowned by the remains of the teeth of the calyx and of the disc, with dispersed hairs. Endocarp of 3 mm containing 2 seeds.

Cultivation –
Cornus Sanguinea is a plant that does not require specific care which with its bushy and shrubby appearance can cover an entire area in a short time.
Excellent plant for hedges that does not require pruning, unless you want to remove the basal suckers, obtaining very resistant twigs for creating baskets.
The ideal soil for its cultivation is sandy, chalky, clayey. The plant does not require a particularly fertile land and can grow freely even in places that have never been cultivated with other plants, shrubs, trees. The substrate can also be both acidic and neutral and it should not be necessary to resort to specific fertilizers. For cultivation in a vegetable garden or in a garden we will simply have to prepare the soil with a hoeing and a depth dig. After an energetic manual intervention we can fertilize with manure or compost waiting for the earth to completely absorb the nutrients. These fertilization operations are optional, so it is recommended not to overdo the fertilizer as the plant will grow spontaneously.
The plant can be grown both in coastal and flat or hilly areas. It would be better to place the plant in the sun, in a place where the radiation reaches for a few hours of the day. However, the Cornus Sanguinea can resist even in places in partial shade. There are no particular problems related to the climate, neither with regard to hot summers, nor for cold winters, as long as not extreme.

Customs and Traditions –
Bloody dogwood takes its name from the red leaves of autumn and the hard wood of its branches.
The main constituents present in the plant are: tannins, resins, polyphenols, quercetin, malic, tannic, gallic and glycoxalic acids, vitamin C, salts and pectin.
Dimethylglycine is extracted from the bark of the branches.
It is a plant with antithrombotic and anticoagulant properties, it is indicated in hyperthyroidism with signs of thyrotoxicosis (weight loss, fine hand tremors, tachycardia, exophthalmos, anxiety, diarrhea, etc.)
In some cases, contact with dogwood leaves can cause skin irritation and itching.
The fruits, with an unpleasant taste, are rich in vitamin C, which is why in the past they were used to prepare jams and fruit juices.
Seed oil was once used in lamps as fuel, to dye skins gray or blue and to make soap.
The young branches, due to their flexibility, can be used to make baskets, backyard brooms, toothpicks and, in some regions they are used to prepare skewers, it seems to give a good aroma to the meat.
The branches in the past and, unfortunately also in the present (by poachers), were used for the manufacture of the closing hook of the “arches” instruments of death and torture for small birds. It is a pasture plant, in fact black redstart, caesene, blackcap and thrush, are greedy of the fruits.
The hard and compact wood is used to make handles for tools and walking sticks.
For the beautiful autumn color of the leaves, this plant is cultivated in forest nurseries for ornamental purposes and in naturalistic engineering.
This plant is melliferous and is foraged by bees, which collect the nectar.

Preparation Method –
The Cornus sanguinea, as well as for pharmaceutical purposes and for the uses of its timber, was especially once used for its fruits, with an unpleasant taste, vitamin C maricos, to prepare jams and fruit juices.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline all responsibility for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *