CORNELIAN CHERRY, the male cornel tree, a dogwood shrub with edible berries. Three species of cornel (genus Cornus L., fam. Cornaceae) are native to Persia: C. australis C.A.M., the female cornel tree (sīāh-al, etc.); C. sanguinea L., the “red dogwood” (šaft; čapčapī; and C. mas L., the male cornel tree, or “cornelian cherry,” commonly called zoḡāl-aḵta, a term that is properly applied only to its ripe berries (Sāʿī, I, pp. 259-60; Parsa, II, pp. 872-73, VIII, p. 52; Ṯābetī, 1326 Š./1947, pp. 92-93; idem, 1355 Š./1976, pp. 256-60).
The ripe berries of the cornelian cherry, which are slightly sour and astringent, are found in various shades of red. The shrub is abundant in the forests of Arasbārān in Azerbaijan, where it is called zoḡāl; in the ʿAmmārlū and Deylamān districts of Gīlān (Gīlakī: [zūḡāl] əḵtə; Maṛʿašī, p. 59; Pāyanda Langarūdī, p. 722; Ṯābetī, 1337 Š./1958, p. 165); and in the Qazvīn area (Jazāyerī, pp. 109-10). Cornelian cherries are eaten in season as a fancy fruit. In Gīlān the əḵtə is also used to make a preserve (morabbā; for recipe, see Ḵāvar, p. 231), usually eaten instead of sugar with tea, and əḵtə ḵəməs, a thick paste made with crushed boiled əḵtə and seasoned with salt and the powdered fruit of Persian marjoram (gol-par; Heracleum persicum Desf.; see Ḵāvar, p. 238); the latter is particularly enjoyed by young girls.
Some medico-pharmacological and botanical authors of the Islamic period, essentially repeating Dioscorides (De Materia Medica, bk. 1 no. 108) and Galen (Ketāb al-adwīa al-mofrada, bk. 7, both tr. apud Ebn al-Bayṭār [d. 646/1248], II, pt. 4, pp. 11-12), include mention of the cornelian cherry and its medicinal properties, usually under the term qarānīa (< Gk. kranía or kráneia “cornel”); for example, the Cordovan botanist Abū Jaʿfar Aḥmad Ḡāfeqī (d. after 560/1165) described the cornelian cherry as “a tree growing in cold mountains, with leaves like those of the chinaberry (azederach)” (apud Ebn al-Bayṭār, II, pt. 4, pp. 11-12; cf. the longer description by Anṭākī [d. 1008/1599], I, p. 222, s.v. qorn [< Lat. cornus]. A vernacular name that was misused by some Arabic authors to designate the kranía mentioned by Dioscorides and Galen was morrān (a term of uncertain origin), which properly designates Fraxinus ornus Pall., the manna, or flowering ash (Gk. melía > Ar. mālīā; Pers. zabān-gonješk; for the source of the confusion, as well as references to the authors concerned, see Dietrich, II, pp. 131 no. 48, 183 no. 95; cf. Tonokābonī, p. 798, s.v. marrān). Probably the earliest Persian author to describe it was the 10th-century pharmacologist Abū Manṣūr Mowaffaq Heravī, under the Persian term zoqāl (p. 177; cf. Tonokābonī, p. 452; ʿAqīlī Ḵorāsānī, pp. 474-75); he classified its medical properties as cold and dry in the second degree, cholagogic, stomachic, and mildly astringent. In the Persian dictionary Borhān-e qāteʿ (ed. Moʿīn, III, p. 1523) the definition is given under qarānīā; Moḥammad-Pādšāh (Ānand Rāj, completed in India in 1306/1888; III, p. 2225) was probably the first lexicographer to record the new designation zoḡāl-e aḵta, adding a distich by Ṣāʾeb Tabrīzī (17th century) and the comment that sheep paunch stuffed with zoḡāl-e aḵta is delicious.
Dāwūd Anṭākī, Taḏkerat ole’l-albāb wa’l-jāmeʿ le’l-ʿajab al-ʿojāb, 2 vols., Cairo, 1308-09/1890-91.
Moḥammad-Ḥosayn ʿAqīlī Ḵorāsānī, Maḵzan al-adwīa, Calcutta, 1844.
A. Dietrich, ed. and tr., Dioscurides Triumphans. Ein anonymer arabischer Kommentar (Ende 12. Jahrh. n. Chr.) zur Materia Medica, 2 vols., Göttingen, 1988.
Ebn al-Bayṭār, al-Jāmeʿ le-mofradāt al-adwīa wa’l-aḡḏīa, 4 pts. in 2 vols., Būlaq, 1291/1874.
Abū Manṣūr Mawaffaq Heravī, Ketāb al-abnīa ʿan ḥaqāyeq al-adwīa, ed. A. Bahmanyār and Ḥ. Maḥbūbī Ardakānī, Tehran, 1346 Š./1967.
Ḡ. Jazāyerī, Zabān-e ḵorākīhā, 3rd ed., Tehran, 1354 Š./1975.
Z. Ḵāvar Maṛʿašī, Honar-e āšpazī-e Gīlān, Tehran, 1366 Š./1987.
A. Maṛʿašī, Vāža-nāma-ye gūyeš-e gīlakī, Rašt, 1363 Š./1984.
Moḥammad-Pādšāh (Šād), Farhang-e Ānand Rāj, ed. M. Dabīrsīāqī, 2nd ed., 7 vols., Tehran, 1363 Š./1984.
A. Parsa (Pārsā), Flore de l’Iran II, Tehran, 1948; VIII, Tehran, 1960.
M. Pāyanda Langarūdī, Farhang-e Gīl o Deylam (fārsī be gīlakī), Tehran, 1366 Š./1987.
K. Sāʿī, Jangal-šenāsī I, Tehran, 1327 Š./1948.
Ḥ. Ṯābetī (Sabeti), Deraḵtān-e jangalī-e Īrān, Tehran, 1326 Š./1948.
Idem, Jangalhā-ye Īrān, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958.
Idem, Jangalhā, deraḵtān o deraḵṭčahā-ye Īrān/Forests, Trees and Shrubs of Iran, Tehran, 1355 Š./1976.
Moḥammad-Moʾmen Ḥosaynī Tonokābonī (Ḥakīm Moʾmen), Toḥfat al-moʾmenīn (Toḥfa-ye Ḥakīm Moʾmen), Tehran, n.d. [1360 Š./1981?].
Originally Published: December 15, 1993
Last Updated: October 31, 2011
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Vol. VI, Fasc. 3, pp. 276-277