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Native alternative(s) for Cornus controversa:
Cornus florida Cornus florida
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Halesia carolina Full Form
Aesculus flava Tree in full bloom
Quercus nigra Quercus nigra

Giant Dogwood Cornus controversa

Previously known as:

  • Cornus obovata
  • Swida controversa
  • Swida controversa var. shikokumontana
Phonetic Spelling
KOR-nus kon-troh-VER-suh
Description

The giant dogwood is a medium to a tall ornamental flowering tree that enjoys the sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. The growth rate is moderate to rapid. Its form is picturesque and wide-spreading. This plant has horizontal branches that appear to be "layered". This tree features alternate leaves which are characteristic of only one other dogwood, Cornus alternifolia. 

This tree is native to China, the Himalayas, Japan, Korea, Manchuria, Nepal, and Vietnam.

The genus name, Cornus, is from the Latin word cornu, which means "horn." This is about the hardness of the wood. 

The giant dogwood prefers acidic, moist, and well-drained soils. It will tolerate full sun to partial shade, but the tree performs best in cool summer climates. Pruning will be needed to provide clearance beneath the canopy as the tree matures. The tree may be propagated by stem cuttings, grafting, or seed.

The simple leaves are dark green on the upper surface and appear silverish-green on the undersides. The cultivar, 'Variegata,' has leaves with creamy white margins. The flowers appear in late spring to early summer and are small, creamy-white blooms arranged in clusters. The fruits are small, bluish-black drupes that appear in late summer. The fruits are attractive to birds and small mammals.

 The giant dogwood may be considered for a large home lawn, as a specimen, urban street, or shade tree. The variegated foliage of the cultivar, 'Variegata,' would add interest to any landscape. 

Seasons of Interest:

   Foliage: Fall    Bloom: Summer, early   Fruit: Summer-Fall, bluish-black drupes 

Quick ID Hints:

  • medium to large tree
  • horizontal branches that appear to be layered
  • alternate dark green leaves on the upper surface and silvery-green beneath
  • the creamy-white flowers that form into clusters in the late spring
  • bluish-black drupes mature in late summer

Insects, Diseases, and Other Problems: Leaf miner and scale are less serious potential insect pests. When stressed, this plant is susceptible to a large number of disease problems. The most serious is dogwood anthracnose. Other diseases include powdery mildew, leaf spot, canker, root rot, and leaf & twig blight. It can also become vulnerable to borers. 

 

 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'June Snow'
    dark green leaves, orange to red fall color
  • 'Variegata'
    green leaves with creamy white margins
'June Snow', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#cultivars#showy flowers#deciduous#shade tree#full sun tolerant#specimen#white flowers#wildlife plant#nectar plant#shelter#spring flowers#fall interest#flowering tree#street tree#showy fruits#lawn tree#specialized bees#deer resistant#cream flowers#blue fruits#spring interest#acidic soils tolerant#pollinator plant#black fruits#deciduous tree#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#medium size tree#horizontal branching
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'June Snow'
    dark green leaves, orange to red fall color
  • 'Variegata'
    green leaves with creamy white margins
'June Snow', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#cultivars#showy flowers#deciduous#shade tree#full sun tolerant#specimen#white flowers#wildlife plant#nectar plant#shelter#spring flowers#fall interest#flowering tree#street tree#showy fruits#lawn tree#specialized bees#deer resistant#cream flowers#blue fruits#spring interest#acidic soils tolerant#pollinator plant#black fruits#deciduous tree#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#medium size tree#horizontal branching
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cornus
    Species:
    controversa
    Family:
    Cornaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Grafting
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China, the Himalayas, Korea, Japan, Manchuria, and Nepal
    Distribution:
    Native: China North-Central, China-South Central, China Southeast, East Himalaya, Hainan, Japan, Korea, Kuril Island, Manchuria, Myanmar, Nepal Taiwan, Tibet, and Vietnam
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are attractive to birds and small mammals. The plant provides nesting sites. Members of the genus Cornus support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Gonandrena) fragilis, Andrena (Gonandrena) Integra, and Andrena (Gonandrena) platyparia.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Nesting
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Deer
    Dimensions:
    Height: 35 ft. 0 in. - 45 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 35 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Horizontal
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Blue
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are round, fleshy, bluish-black drupes. They measure less than 0.5 inches in diameter. Fruits are attractive to birds and small mammals.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Small, creamy-white flowers appear in flattened clusters (cymes to 3-7” wide) in late spring (May-June). Although individual flowers are small, a tree in full bloom is quite showy.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    This plant has 3-6 in. alternate, simple leaves that are dark green above and silver-green on the undersides. They may develop pale greenish-yellow to reddish-purple fall leaves.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The stem color is green.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer