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If you want to know the answer to the question, ‘Do dogwood trees have berries,’ then yes, they do. In this article, I will pinpoint and answer a few frequently asked questions about dogwood berries: are dogwood berries edible? If not, are Kousa dogwood berries edible?
This raises a few other related questions, like: Can you eat dogwood berries? If yes, then how to eat dogwood berries? After that, I will also answer you, ‘Are dogwood berries poisonous to dogs’ and ‘Do birds eat dogwood berries’ or not. But before these, let’s begin with the first basic question: do dogwood trees have berries?
Do Dogwood Trees Have Berries?
Yes, dogwood trees produce berries, but not all are edible. Plus, not all species of dogwood trees bear fruit. Dogwood trees are primarily known for their ornamental beauty. People often use their showy blossoms in the spring & colorful foliage in the fall as focal points in their yards.
Some of the species that are known to produce edible fruit are:
- Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas): This species is particularly native to Europe & Asia. This variety is widely cultivated for its edible fruit, which resembles small cherries. The fruit of this specimen is tart & acidic, making it best to be used in jams, jellies, and syrups.
- Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii): Another variety that produces berries in the Pacific Dogwood, native to the Pacific Northwest. These trees produce small red berries that are edible when fully ripe. I find its fruit very tangy, but its berries generally have a sweet flavor with some tanginess. Commercial products like pies, jams, and baked goods frequently use Pacific dogwood Berries.
- Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa): This species is extremely popular for its ornamental value. This species is native to East Asia and produces edible berries which resemble small strawberries. You can eat them when they are fully ripe. It will likely have a sweet, tropical flavor, perfect for homemade desserts and other sweet dishes.
Are Dogwood Berries Edible?
Yes, some species of dogwood berries are edible. Some are even considered a delicacy, whereas others can be toxic & potentially harmful to human health. Before you eat any dogwood berry, learn which species of dogwood tree fruit you’re dealing with before consuming it.
In general, you can safely eat Pacific dogwood and Kousa dogwood berries in small amounts as those are not only edible but also said to be a good source of vitamin C, fiber, & antioxidants.
A study from the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry found that Kousa dogwood berries can help reduce the risk of chronic disease. The Kousa dogwood tree contains high levels of polyphenols, compounds linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Are Kousa Dogwood Berries Edible?
You can safely eat and use Kousa dogwood tree berries in your recipes. The berries are edible to humans and wildlife. At first, you might mistake it for mini strawberries because it resembles one.
I told you earlier this particular variety is native to East Asia and is commonly grown for its ornamental value. In many Asian countries, Kousa dogwood berries are frequently used in cooking and baking as they are a rich source of vitamin C, fiber & antioxidants.
You should know that Kousa dogwood berries are said to have anti-inflammatory & anti-cancer properties (as per a study published by the National Institutes of Health). These berries can also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but you first need to consult a doctor.
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Can You Eat Dogwood Berries?
Generally, you can safely eat ripened berries of a few varieties of dogwood trees, like Kousa or Pacific dogwood tree berries, but only some varieties are safe. Few dogwood tree berries contain toxins and can be poisonous to humans if eaten.
However, suppose you have fruits from trees like Kousa dogwood, Pacific dogwood, or Cornelian cherry. In that case, you can safely use it in cooking, baking, or directly consuming it if it’s ripened.
But make sure it’s important to consume ripe berries and avoid consuming large quantities of the fruit. When consuming dogwood berries or feeding them to anyone, it’s important to consider a few factors.
- First, you need to ensure you are dealing with an edible dogwood tree species.
- Second, you must only consume ripe berries because unripe berries can be toxic.
- Finally, it would help if you only ate small quantities of the fruit, as too much of it can potentially cause digestive upset.
How To Eat Dogwood Berries
Preparation of Dogwood Berries for Consumption
Before eating any dogwood tree berry, ensure it is ripe and then wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt, bugs, or other contaminants.
I usually wash my tree fruits by placing them in a colander and running them under cool water for a few minutes. Once they are clean, you can safely eat either raw or cooked. I highly recommend you avoid eating raw berries as it may cause digestive upset.
Cooking Dogwood Berries
As I told you earlier, you can safely eat raw dogwood berries if they ripen, but cooking them will enhance the flavor and texture. There are a few methods to cook dogwood tree berries and enjoy their flavor.
- Boiling: Here, you will boil the berries for a few minutes until they feel soft or tender. Thus, get a pot of boiling water and place the berries to boil for at least 10-15 minutes.
- Baking: If you don’t like boiling the fruits, you can roast the berries in the oven. I usually like the roasted flavor. If you also want to do this, you must spread the berries on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes. If you are a fan of roasted flavor, I will recommend you take and roast it until they are slightly softened.
- Jamming: if you have kids in your home, you can combine the berries with sugar & lemon juice in a saucepan and cook over medium heat. It would help if you continued to cook & stir it frequently until the mixture thickens and reaches a jam-like consistency.
Are Dogwood Berries Poisonous?
Yes, a few dogwood tree varieties also produce poisonous berries and can cause harm if ingested. If you need to know which dogwood tree species you are harvesting from, never eat any berries.
The poisonous ones and species that produce edible berries can harm if ingested in large quantities.
Even the most common edible berries-producing dogwood species like the Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii), the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), and the Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) are known to have high levels of tannins & other compounds which can cause cramps & digestive upset to humans if consumed in large quantities.
Symptoms of Dogwood Berry Poisoning
If you think you have intentionally or accidentally ingested toxic dogwood berries, you’ll likely experience symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, & difficulty breathing. In severe cases, it can lead to coma or death.
Therefore, I highly recommend you seek medical attention promptly if you experience any symptoms after eating berries or fruit from any tree. If you suspect someone you know has ingested toxic dogwood berries, call the doctor & ambulance right away after symptoms appear.
Treatment for Dogwood Berry Poisoning
Generally, a doctor will aim to manage symptoms and provide supportive care because there is no specific antidote for dogwood berry poisoning.
If you seek medical attention quickly, your doctor will likely administer activated charcoal, which will help absorb toxins and prevent your body from absorbing them. Some doctors also prefer to give Intravenous fluids to flush out the toxins when symptoms are severe.
Do Birds Eat Dogwood Berries?
Yes, Birds eat dogwood berries. Dogwood berries are a staple food source for many bird species, especially during the winter when other food sources are scarce. I have frequently seen birds flying around dogwood trees when the other food source becomes scarce during winter & fall.
Some of the most common bird species you will likely notice feeding on dogwood berries include cedar waxwings, eastern bluebirds, robins, thrushes, & woodpeckers.
Also, a study conducted by the U.S. Forest Service reveals over 20 bird species that were recorded feeding on dogwood berries in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. According to that study, the availability of dogwood tree berries also affects the number & diversity of bird species in the area.
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Cedar Waxwing||Bombycilla cedrorum|
|Eastern Bluebird||Sialia sialis|
|American Robin||Turdus migratorius|
|Wood Thrush||Hylocichla mustelina|
Are Dogwood Berries Poisonous To Dogs?
Although dogwood berries are safe for birds to eat, they can be highly toxic to dogs if given in large amounts. As I told you earlier, Dogwood trees & shrubs contain compounds called tannins, which can cause digestive upset in dogs.
If you notice your dog exhibiting signs like vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite, consult a veterinarian. In severe cases, dogs may also experience dehydration & lethargy, requiring quick medical support & attention.
However, dogwood berry poisoning is not typically life-threatening in dogs unless they eat more than 20 (As per ASPCA).
If your dog has ingested dogwood berries, the first step you should try to take is to induce vomiting, which should be done under the guidance of a veterinarian. Your vet may also administer hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting if required.
As I told you in this article, a few species of dogwood trees produce edible berries and are completely safe to consume raw or cooked if riped. However, it would help if you never tried to eat any berry unless you know from which species it is harvested.
Even though wildlife like birds & deer safely enjoy berries when the food is scarce during winter or fall, you should avoid giving them to your pet. If your area has a high population of deer in the locality, your tree is highly susceptible to get damaged from them.
Thus, consider learning “How To Protect Dogwood From Deer” I hope you find this article helpful, and if yes, please share it. Your share will help many people learn about the potential risk of eating too many dogwood tree berries.
It would help if you considered checking our other helpful guides on dogwood tree care & management shared on this website. See you in the next post. Till then, take care & goodbye.