Synonyms: Benthamia capitata, B. fragifera, B. capitata var. khasiana, Cornus capitata subsp. capitata, C. capitata var. khasiana, Cynoxylon capitatum, C. glabriusculum, Dendrobenthamia capitata, D. emeiensis
Family: Cornaceae (Dogwood family)
English: Himalayan strawberry tree, Bentham's Cornel, Evergreen dogwood, Headed-flowered dogwood, Mountain moon, Himalayan flowering dogwood
European: Cornouiller du Bentham (French), Smultronkornell (Swedish)
India: Tharmal (Hindi), Tharbal (Hindi), Bhamora (Uttrakhand), Thamia (Sirmour, H.P.), Guldhara (Mandi, Kullu in H.P.), Dieng-sohjaphon (Assam)
Distribution: E. Asia - China in the Himalayas.
Habitats: Moist, evergreen and mixed forests at elevations of 1000 - 3200 metres.
Morphology: Cornus capitata is an evergreen, small to medium sized tree, growing to 12 m in height. The mature trees are generally wider than tall. The bark of old branches is grayish brown to blackish gray in colour. The young branches are grayish green, pubescent and with white appressed trichomes. The leaves are light green, narrowly elliptic or oblong-lanceolate, 5-12 × 2–3.5 cm in size, leathery, scabrous, with 3-4 veins and densely pubescent with thick white appressed trichomes on the lower side. The flower buds are globose and subtended by four (rarely six) rounded, dark creamy or yellowish petal-like bracts. The globose cymes are approximately1.5 cm in diameter having 30-50 minute (3-4mm) flowers. The calyx is campanulate and hairy. The petals are 2-4 mm long and greenish in colour. The style is cylindrical, 1.5 mm, densely pubescent with white trichomes. The aggregate fruit is an etaerio of drupes, reddish, succulent, globose head and 2.5-5 cm across in diameter. Each drupe is a one seeded stone, roughly six-sided and with a stubby remnant of central-style.
An inflorescence (Cyme)
Fruit: The ripe fruits are reddish, fleshy and edible. They are sweet and taste like an over-ripe banana. Some trees produce quite pleasant tasting fruits. They can be used raw or cooked. The fruit can also be used in preserves. The spiky, edible and red fruits give the plant its name ‘Strawberry Tree’.
Known hazards: Not known
My friend Dr. Vishwapati Bhatt relishing bhamora fruit at Benitaal in Uttrakhand
Medicinal Uses: The bark is a source of tannin which is used as an astringent.
Other Uses: The young twigs are used as fodder. The wood is used mainly as fuel and for making tools.
Cultivation: Cornus capitata mostly grows wild in the Himalayas. Nathaniel Wallichhas has introduced some plants to England in 1825 after his expedition to Nepal. It prefers heavy clay soils. The new plants can be raised from seeds separated from the fruit flesh, which contains germination inhibitors. The germination percentage is generally very poor (11.4-24.7%) in this plant. The cold stratification of seeds for 3 - 4 months improves the germination percentage. Water soaking and sulphuric acid soaking treatments have also been recommended. Plants can also be propagated through young cuttings.