April Plant of the Month
We are all very familiar with the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) that is our state flower in North Carolina but it is also native to Eastern United States. However, if you are looking for something different there is another kind of dogwood called the kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa). The kousa dogwood originated in Japan, Korea and China. It will grow about the same size as a flowering dogwood of 15 to 30 feet tall and wide but is slow growing, only growing about 10 feet in 15 years. Young kousa dogwoods grow in a more upright shape but with age the branches will spread more horizontally.
The kousa dogwood has similar “flowers” or bracts (modified leaves) to the flower dogwood in that they are a creamy white. However, the flowers will appear after the leaves emerge in the spring usually several weeks after the flowering dogwood. In the fall, the kousa dogwood has fall leaf color that varies from purple to red to yellow. The fruit on the kousa dogwood is different than the flowering dogwood in that it is larger and pinkish-red to red (looking similar to a raspberry) and is very showy from September to October.
Jessica Strickland is an Agriculture Extension Agent, specializing in horticulture for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County.
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