Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
This lovely, small tree is a cultivar of the Japanese cornel dogwood (Cornus officinalis ‘Kintoki’). Although related to our native flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), it is much closer in appearance to the cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas) of Europe and Western Asia.
A good, all-year “performer,” it has clusters of tiny, yellow flowers in early spring, bright-red fruits that set against lustrous orange-red foliage in fall, and peeling, reddish-gray bark that looks superb in the clear light of winter.
Both of the cornel dogwoods (C. officinalis & C. mas) have yellow flowers in March or early April and might be confused with the slightly later-blooming—and more lemon-yellow—forsythia (Forsythia spp.).
Our specimen of the Japanese cornel can be seen blooming this week at the Kerlin Overlook, the terrace between the Perkins Visitor Center and the Aquatic Garden. The first shot below was taken looking west towards the Hudson River, the second looking east toward our Wild Garden.