Here is a superb ornamental of the first order with such a small branching habit that it can be either a tree or large shrub and it is loaded with multi-season interest. It is Cornus kousa, or more commonly, Kousa dogwood. This lovely tree typically grows 15 to 30 feet tall with a vase-shaped habit that becomes more rounded with years. Like its American cousin, the Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), the Chinese dogwood "flowers" are four immaculately white, petal-like, pointed bracts up to 5 inches across, which surround the small cluster of hardly noticeable yellowish, true flowers. Kousa dogwood blooms in late spring, weeks after Flowering dogwood, which is a useful point to keep in mind since planting both types would extend the spring show. Kousa dogwood could be planted as a specimen or in groups clustering near patios or along property lines. It is particularly effective in naturalistic settings such as woodland gardens. But the show does not stop with the spring floral display, though that in itself would be reason enough to grow it. The flowers are followed by fruits an inch in diameter which mature to a bright red in summer and persist into autumn, and they're quite edible, if you reach them before the birds. Finally, with the cooling weather, the green foliage turns a kaleidoscope of reds, clarets, purples and scarlets.

Kousa dogwood will grow in average soil of medium moisture, well-drained, and in full sun to part shade. There are no serious insect or disease problems. This tree has better resistance to disease and better cold hardiness than Flowering dogwood and will thrive in all but the greatest extremes of heat and cold. It does very well in the US, the UK and in New Zealand and Australia. There are some noteworthy cultivars such as Akatsuki dogwood and Beni fuji dogwood.


Kousa dogwood

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