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European Cornel, a dash of sunshine to the late winter

European cornel (Cornus mas) is a deciduous shrub in the Cornaceae family, which consists of two genera and 85 species of flowering plants. Native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia, the Cornelian cherry plant tends to grow 5-12m (16-39ft) in height. Dark brown branches spread out and are decorated with vibrant ovate or oblong leaves. The four-petal yellow flowers appear in February and March are generally small in diameter (5-10mm). Vividly yellow flowers bring a dash of sunshine to the late winter period and tend to appear before leaves. However, European cornel is best known for its fruit, red drupe containing a single seed. The fruit is usually 2cm long and 1.5cm wide. Since it resembles cherry fruit, it's clear why European cornel is also referred to as Cornelian cherry. This is especially noticeable when fruits turn dark red when ripe.
The unripe fruit is a powerful astringent. The European cornel fruit ripens in mid-to-late summer, and it's edible. The acidic flavor is like a combination of sour cherry and cranberry. In European countries, the fruit is used to make alcoholic drinks while in Turkey and Iran, it's eaten with salt as a snack in summer.
Cornelian cherry branch with flowers Cornelian cherry has significant health potential. The fruit of this plant has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.* Consumption of European cornel could improve liver health and exhibit antimicrobial actions as well.* Other potential benefits of these fruits include improved kidney function, anti-allergic, antidiabetic, antihistamine, and antimalarial properties.* European cornel may help alleviate stomach pain and cramps, diarrhea, skin problems, and even other common problems such as hemorrhoids.*
The wide spectrum of potential health benefits of European cornel is due to an abundance of nutrients, including calcium, iron, vitamins E, B1, B2, C, folic acid.* It also contains flavonoids which function as powerful antioxidants.*
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