Dogwood and Cornelian cherry

Particolare delle foglie del cornus alba sibirica (Fototeca ISAL, fotografia di Anna Zaffaroni)
Detail of the leaves of the Siberian dogwood (ISAL Photo Archive, photograph by Anna Zaffaroni)


At the side of the neoclassical tower of Villa Crivelli Pusterla in Limbiate, a staircase immersed among Linden trees and young examples of palm trees, leads to the zone downstream to the noble home which offers today, the eastern perspective of the building with the massive terraced wall which is still a characteristic of the Mombello villa, and what remains of the Italian garden, currently assigned to the farm school’s didactic activities.

Among the various tree species found in this part of the garden is the valuable and pleasant Dogwood of the Cornaceae family. Hardly striking during the year, in autumn it shines thanks to its red foliage and fruits called drupes, that grow in umbrella-shaped, shiny, black clusters. The shoots are blood red and the crimson hues of the leaves give this species that Latin name sanguine. Thealternate leaves are oval-elliptical in shape and are slightly hairy on both sides, with veins curving as they approach the tip.
The white-green flowers grow in clusters that resemble posies, and bloom between April and May. Their smell, not pleasing to man, attracts a great number of insects including the larva of the butterfly Callophrys rubi, that feeds on the leaves that are bright green in spring. Once the fruits of the Dogwood were used to extract oil for lamps, but are used today to produce tinctures.
In the lawns of the Lainate park, there are many Cornelian cherry trees of various cultivars amid the dogwood trees. They are edible and ever since ancient times were used to prepare particular sour jams. This tree looks like a shrub, and because of its early flowering stage and the colour of its fruits, has a highly ornamental value. There are some selected varieties with leaves of different hues ranging from green with white veins to green with acidic green veins. The fruits are like conelets, mature gradually in late summer and give an effective decorative effect since they appear on the plant in all shades, from green to bright red. Its name derives from the term cornix or crow, the bird Apollo considered sacred, and which loves to eat the 2-cm long, scarlet fruits and hard nuts.