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Cornus wilsoniana

Previously known as:

  • Cornus fordii
  • Cornus kweichowensis
  • Swida wilsoniana
Phonetic Spelling
KOR-nus wil-son-ee-AH-na
Description

Wilson's Dogwood is deciduous to a semi-evergreen shrub or small tree that has showy, ghost-white bark on the trunks of its mature trees. The plant has small white flower clusters that appear in the spring, and purplish-black berries are present in the fall.

This plant is native to Central and Southern China and is found in forests. Presently, it may be found in collections or commercially in North America, Europe, and Australia.

The genus name, Cornus, is Latin for the word, cornu, which means "horn." This references the hardness of the wood. The species name, wilsoniana, honors Ernest Wilson who collected this plant in the 1900s. The common name, Wilson's Dogwood also references Ernest Wilson. The ghost-white bark that is found on mature trunks of this tree resulted in another common name, Ghost Dogwood.

Wilson's Dogwood may be planted in full sun to partial shade. It prefers well-drained, organically rich, and acidic soils. It performs best in cooler summer climates. It is important to keep this plant consistently moist and provide adequate mulch.

The most prominent and attractive feature of this plant is its ghost-white smooth bark. The attractive flowers in the spring and fruits in the early fall, make this plant a good candidate for year-round specimen interest in the landscape. 

 Seasons of Interest:  Bloom:  Spring    Fruits:  Fall    Bark:  Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • Ghost white bark on mature trees
  • Papery grayish-green leaves with fine white hairs on the undersides
  • Small white flowers that grow in clusters in the spring
  • Small purplish-black berries appear in the fall

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: This plant has no serious insect or disease problemsOccasional pests include borers, leaf miners, and scale. Canker, leaf spot, and root rot may occur. This species is thought to be resistant to twig blight.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#small tree#interesting bark#specimen#white flowers#semi-evergreen#white bark#deciduous shrub#spring flowers#winter interest#flowering tree#street tree#year-round interest#showy fruits#lawn tree#flowering shrub#deer resistant#fruits fall#black fruits#deciduous tree#purple fruits#fruits early fall
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#small tree#interesting bark#specimen#white flowers#semi-evergreen#white bark#deciduous shrub#spring flowers#winter interest#flowering tree#street tree#year-round interest#showy fruits#lawn tree#flowering shrub#deer resistant#fruits fall#black fruits#deciduous tree#purple fruits#fruits early fall
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cornus
    Species:
    wilsoniana
    Family:
    Cornaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    In China, the wood of the tree may be used to make farm tools and furniture. The leaves are a source of food for livestock. The fruits are a source of oil.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Southern China
    Distribution:
    Native: China North-Central, China South-Central, and China Southeast; Distribution: North America, Europe, and Australia
    Wildlife Value:
    The flowers attract butterflies for nectar and pollen. The tree is deer tolerant.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Twig blight
    Dimensions:
    Height: 16 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 12 ft. 0 in. - 33 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-trunked
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • 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:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are purplish-black drupes and measure less than 0.25 inches in diameter. Each drupe contains a small ribbed stone. They are present from September to October.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The small white flowers appear on the terminal branches. The blooms are arranged in clusters or cymes and measure 2 to 4 inches in diameter. Flowering occurs in May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Papery
    Soft
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are papery, simple, and opposite. They are elliptical to ovate and measure 2.25 to 4.5 inches long and 0.75 to 2.25 inches wide. The upper leaf surface is grayish-green, and the lower surface is covered with dense white hairs.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Green
    Light Gray
    White
    Surface/Attachment:
    Peeling
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is gray or greenish-gray, and it splits and flakes in rectangular plates. Mature trees have smooth, ghost-white trunks.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Angular
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The young branches are grayish-green, angled, and have grayish hairs. The older branches are brown and smooth with narrow lenticels.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies