About Kousa Dogwood

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The Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) has a reputation as being tolerant to colder regions of North America and for its resistance to insect pests and disease, despite being a non-native species. Originating from Asian nations such as Korea and China, the Kousa dogwood attains small tree size but also comes in shrubby cultivars for your landscaping needs.

Types and Size

  • As a tree, Kousa dogwood develops to between 15 and 30 feet high, with a width up to 30 feet. Some of its cultivars grow to the same stature as the parent species, while others are considerably smaller. One type, Weaver's Weeping, matures to just 10 feet tall, while Milky Way attains heights around 20 feet. Fireworks grows to between 15 and 20 feet; Little Beauty rarely exceeds 15 feet high.

Flowers

  • It is the bracts -- modified leaves surrounding the actual flowers -- that give the Kousa dogwood ornamental appeal. This is a common trait among dogwood trees. These bracts are large, as long as 2 inches, and most varieties start out white and turn pinkish over time. Beni Fuji and Satomi, however, have vivid pink bracts; the former retains a deep pink color, while the latter's pink bracts fade during summer heat. Kousa dogwood bracts are pointed, and there are four of them around the small, yellow-green flowers. The tree blooms during early June, with the flowers persisting for as long as six weeks, according to the University of Connecticut Plant Database.

Other Features

  • Green leaves that change to bright colors, including red, in autumn also highlight the Kousa dogwood. The flowers generate fruit, which when ripe bear a resemblance to red raspberries. The fruit, which ripens to its red color after starting out green, is mealy but edible. Older specimens feature a peeling bark, with the exfoliating bark coming in mixes of colors such as mahohany, tan and gray.

Uses

  • There is an ornamental aspect to the Kousa dogwood during every season, with its spring flowers, summer and autumn foliage and fruit combining with the attractive bark in winter to make this a choice specimen tree. Use Kousa dogwood in numbers to create groves of this species. Opt to plant them in bird gardens, where birds will feed on the fruit. Use the Kousa dogwood in naturalized areas, woodland gardens or as a patio tree.

Growing Tips

  • The model site for the Kousa dogwood is one receiving full sun to partial shade. The drainage needs to be good, and the tree does well in sandy soils with a slightly acidic tendency. Kousa dogwood tolerates drought conditions better than the flowering dogwood does. Landscapers often trim away the lower branches of this tree, allowing a better look at the colorful, peeling bark.

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