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Cornus kousa

Common Name(s):

Description

The Kousa dogwood is a handsome, small- to medium-sized tree reaching a mature height of 30 feet. Sometimes referred to as the Chinese dogwood, this Asian cousin to our native flowering dogwood can be used as a specimen plant or in shrub borders.

Depending on the age of the Kousa dogwood, the trees take on a different appearance. Young trees grow in an upright fashion and in somewhat of a conical shape. They are vase-shaped in their youth. As a Kousa matures, it develops more horizontal branching, rounded form, and becomes more wide-spreading.  This tree does better in open areas like lawns than the native trees do but is prefers some light shade especially in the afternoon.  It prefers well-drained acidic soil and while it tolerates some dry soil it will not survive in water-logged environments.  It has shallow roots so does not like to be transplanted.  If necessary transplant in the early spring.

Our native dogwoods bloom in April, while the Kousa dogwoods flower nearly a month later. A tree for all seasons, the Kousa dogwood has berries that resemble raspberry fruit in autumn, and the peeling bark on the mature tree trunks gives the bark an attractive mottled appearance.  It truly has year-round interest.  

The soil should be well-drained but moist. Resistant to anthracnose, this tree (which is a great addition to many Carolina landscapes) is also mildly resistant to damage by deer. Don’t let this opportunity to plant a real showstopper pass you by!

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  Calico scale, dogwood borer, dogwood sawfly, Japanese maple scale, leafhoppers, oyster shell scale.  Leaf and flower blight (botrytis), crown canker, bacterial leaf scorch, powdery mildew, septoria leaf spot.   Dropped fruits can ferment and attract yellow jackets.  Underneath the tree seedlings sprout prolifically and can be weedy.

Cultivars:
  • 'Blue Shadow'
  • 'Gold Cup'
  • 'Gold Star'
  • 'Greensleeves'
  • 'Milky Way'
  • 'Milky Way Select'
    Interesting bark, amazing fall color
  • 'Samaritan'
    Upright, single trunk, variegated leaves
  • 'Satomi'
  • 'Summer Fun'
  • 'Wolf Eyes'
Tags:
#bees#white#pink#sun#deciduous#fall color#birds#small tree#pollinators#songbirds#full sun#partial shade#interesting bark#specimen#wildlife plant#purple leaves#red leaves#nectar plant#cover plant#fall interest#show stopper#flowering tree#berries#street tree#year-round interest#border#specialized bees#nesting#disease resistant#cpp#exfoliating#deer damage#scarlet leaves#shrub border
Cultivars:
  • 'Blue Shadow'
  • 'Gold Cup'
  • 'Gold Star'
  • 'Greensleeves'
  • 'Milky Way'
  • 'Milky Way Select'
    Interesting bark, amazing fall color
  • 'Samaritan'
    Upright, single trunk, variegated leaves
  • 'Satomi'
  • 'Summer Fun'
  • 'Wolf Eyes'
Tags:
#bees#white#pink#sun#deciduous#fall color#birds#small tree#pollinators#songbirds#full sun#partial shade#interesting bark#specimen#wildlife plant#purple leaves#red leaves#nectar plant#cover plant#fall interest#show stopper#flowering tree#berries#street tree#year-round interest#border#specialized bees#nesting#disease resistant#cpp#exfoliating#deer damage#scarlet leaves#shrub border
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cornus
    Species:
    kousa
    Family:
    Cornaceae
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Japan, Korea, China
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits and nesting sites attractive to songbirds. Squirrels eat fruits as well. Members of the genus Cornus support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Gonandrena) fragilis, Andrena (Gonandrena) integra, and Andrena (Gonandrena) platyparia.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Enhancement
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to anthracnose and blights that native dogwoods are susceptible to. Mildly resistant to deer damage
    Edibility:
    Fruits are technically edible but are usually left for the birds.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Shrub
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Horizontal
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    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 pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Description:
    This plant has globular, pinkish-red to red fruit in late summer (though on 'Greensleeves,' fruit can be green at some points and a little pointy). The Kousa dogwood has berries that resemble raspberry fruit in autumn.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    This plant has 2-4 in. white or pink tapered bracts. Flowers appear before leaves and bloom about 2-3 weeks after C. florida. They bloom around May (late spring) and into June.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    This plant has 2-4 in. long 1/4"-1 3/4" wide, opposite, simple, and dark green leaves that have a reddish-purple to scarlet fall color. Cornus kousa 'Greensleeves has glossy, slightly wavy, green leaves that are pointed at the ends. For Cornus kousa 'Greensleeves, the top of the leaf's venation is a yellowish-green which makes the venation obvious against the glossy green leaf; for Cornus kousa 'Greensleeves, the leaf's underside is a lighter green color than on top and the venation is prominent sticking out slightly and being a pale-green. The margins are entire and the base is cuneate with an acuminate apex.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Bark Description:
    The peeling brown bark on the mature tree trunks gives the bark an attractive mottled appearance. Looks espeically attractive if under light in the evening to take advantage of the exfoliating bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Mass Planting
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer