Dogwood tree pictures flowers

From the Missouri Botanical Garden website, read the following about the kousa dogwood. “Cornus kousa, commonly called Kousa dogwood, is a small, deciduous flowering tree or multi-stemmed shrub that typically grows 15-30’ tall, with a vase-shaped habit in the early years but eventually maturing to a more rounded form. Bloom occurs in late spring. The showy parts of the Kousa dogwood “flower” (3-5” across) are the four narrowly pointed petal-like white bracts which surround the center cluster of insignificant, yellowish-green, true flowers. Flowers are followed by berry-like fruits (to 1” diameter) which mature to a pinkish red in summer and persist into fall. Fruits are technically edible, but are usually left for the birds. Oval, pointed leaves (to 4” long) are dark green, but usually turns attractive shades of reddish-purple to scarlet in autumn. Mottled, exfoliating, tan and gray bark on mature trees is attractive in winter.

This matter of fact description does not begin to address the beauty of a kousa dogwood in full and glorious bloom. I doubt I have ever written about them in the 10 years I have been publishing my garden design journal. Primarily as I have never ever seen them so spectacular in flower as they are right now. The kousa dogwood is native to Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan. They are rated as hardy and thriving in zone 5 to 8, but my experience suggests they can act a little hostile towards our baking summers, and heavy clay based soil. They seem to favor thin compost rich soil on the acid side that drains in a twinkling of an eye. I do find they perform better than American dogwood (cornus florida) in general.

My theory seems to have some support. This has been the rainiest and coolest spring I can ever remember. We have had many more rainy than dry days. It was 48 degrees this morning, and barely 60 degrees this afternoon. The ground is completely drenched. I make an effort to stay out of the garden, even if it means the foot tall weeds are getting closer to 2 feet tall. The grass is squishy. For the Kousas to put on such a rare show of extravagant bloom says there is definitely something in the air that they like.

The actual flowers are small and insignificant. All of the show comes from the four stiff bright white bracts that surround the flower. In a stellar year, those thousands of bracts overlap one another to produce a solid sheet of white. Even at maturity, a kousa dogwood is small enough to comfortably place in an urban landscape. Sited with some afternoon shade, a routine source of water and great drainage, all a gardener has to do is wait for that one year when all the stars align for a super bloom.

Should you be one of those people who drives the neighborhood to look at holiday lights, a cruise might be in order. You can spot them for at least a block away. Out of flower, they have handsome foliage, and even more handsome exfoliating bark when they are older-but the star of the once in a blue moon show are the flowers.

In 2009, a hybrid of Cornus Kousa, and the Pacific coast dogwood, Cornus Nutallii, was introduced from the breeding program at Rutgers University. Again, from the Missouri Botanical Garden website: the dogwood “Venus” These four trees planted in the tree lawn at my house are young, but they will grow. Even at a 2″ caliper size, I can spot the flowers from several blocks away.

This hybrid is hardier than either parent. They thrive in full sun, and grow fast when they are happy. The flowers can easily reach 6″ to 7″ in diameter. We have probably planted better than 100 of them since 2011, with only a few losses. They are a little shy to bloom until they have been in the ground for a year or two, but once they start, they are stop you dead in your tracks gorgeous.

They rival the magnolias for the showiest spring flowering tree. As with Cornus Kousa, Venus flowers in June, avoiding late spring frosts that so often damage the flowers of magnolias.

A pair of small trees I planted 3 years ago are covered with flowers this year.
This shade garden planted some 4 years ago for my clients features a pair of Venus dogwoods. They are especially happy to have them this year.


Dogwood Tree Types: Common Varieties Of Dogwood Trees

Dogwoods are among the most beautiful trees found in American landscapes, but not all types are suitable for the garden. Find out about the different kinds of dogwood trees in this article.

Dog Tree Types

Of the 17 species of dogwood native to North America, the four most common garden types are native flowering dogwoods, Pacific dogwood, Cornelian cherry dogwood and kousa dogwoods. The latter two are introduced species that have earned a place in American gardens because they are more disease resistant than native species.

Other native species are best left in the wild because of their coarse texture or unruly habit. Let’s look at the four different types of dogwood trees best suited to cultivated landscapes.

Flowering Dogwood

Of all the varieties of dogwood, gardeners are most familiar with the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). This beautiful tree is interesting all year, with pink or white flowers in late winter or early spring, followed by attractive green foliage. In late summer, the leaves turn dark red, and bright red berries appear in place of the flowers. The berries are an important food for several types of wildlife, including many species of songbirds. In the winter, the tree has an attractive silhouette with small buds at the tips of the branches.

Flowering dogwoods grow to between 12 and 20 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 6 to 12 inches. They thrive in sun or shade. Those in full sun are shorter with better leaf color, especially in the fall. In the shade, they may have poor fall color, but they have a more graceful, open canopy shape.

Native to the Eastern U.S., this handsome tree thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Flowering dogwood is susceptible to anthracnose, a devastating and incurable disease that can kill the tree. In areas where anthracnose is a problem, plant kousa or Cornelian cherry dogwood instead.

Kousa Dogwood

Native to China, Japan and Korea, the kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is very similar to the flowering dogwood. The first difference you will notice is that the leaves appear before the flowers, and the tree flowers a couple of weeks later than the flowering dogwood. The fall fruit looks like raspberries, and it’s edible if you can tolerate the mealy texture.

If you’re going to plant near a patio, flowering dogwood may be a better choice because the kousa’s berries create a litter problem. It tolerates the cooler temperatures of zones 4 through 8. There are several noteworthy hybrids of C. florida and C. kousa.

Pacific Dogwood

Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) grows on the West Coast in a band between San Francisco and British Columbia. Unfortunately, it doesn’t thrive in the east. It’s a taller and more upright tree than the flowering dogwood. Pacific dogwood thrives in USDA zones 6b through 9a.

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood

Cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas) is a European species that thrives in zones 5 through 8, although it looks ragged by the end of the season in areas with hot summers. You can grow it as a small tree or a tall, multi-stemmed shrub. It reaches heights of 15 to 20 feet.

It blooms in late winter or very early spring, with the yellow blossoms making their appearance before early spring-bloomers such as forsythia. You can use the cherry-like fruit in preserves.

Dogwood trees (Cornus spp.) are one of the quintessential flowering trees of spring. There are several popular varieties available – choosing one depends on where you live in the country and the unique context of your home landscape.

Dogwood Basics

The various species of dogwood differ somewhat in appearance and growing requirements, but there are number of things that characterize them as a group.

Growing Requirements

Dogwoods are small trees by nature, rarely growing to more than 25 feet in height. In the wild they grow as understory trees, meaning they are best adapted to cool, partly shaded conditions. Most will tolerate full sun without a problem in places where summers are not scorching, but in truly hot climates it’s best to give the afternoon shade.

Dogwoods like the rich, moist, slightly acidic soils found in the hardwood forests of their native habitats. Mimic this in the garden by incorporating ample organic matter into the soil prior to planting and maintaining a thick layer of mulch over the root zone. Regular irrigation is essential during dry periods.

Landscape Applications

Dogwood trees are noted for their prolific spring flower displays and ornamental form, making them ideal candidates to use as a focal point in the landscape. For example, in front yards they can be planted in the center of a bed of perennial flowers near the entrance of the home.

They are small enough to be considered backyard patio trees as well. Plant them six or eight feet from the edge of a patio or deck to give a little shade and privacy around outdoor seating areas.

Types of Dogwood Trees

There are five commonly grown species of dogwood, each with a unique ornamental form.

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida) ares hardy in USDA zones 5 though 9 and are known for their large white blossoms in early spring. The blossoms of many flowering dogwoods are tinged with pink and there are some cultivars that have entirely pink blossoms. The flowers are followed by red berries, which birds adore. They are not poisonous to people, but are unpalatable.

The large oval leaves are deeply veined and turn a beautiful shade of red before dropping off in the fall.

This variety is found in the forests of the southeastern United States and is one of the most popular ornamental trees in that part of the country, but is widely grown in other regions as well. It’s easily found in most nurseries. It is the only dogwood that thrives in hot, humid climates, though it still needs afternoon sun and ample irrigation to perform well.

The biggest drawback of this variety is its susceptibility to disease – especially an incurable form of anthracnose that is prevalent in some areas.

Kousa Dogwood

Kousa Dogwood

The Kousa or Japanese dogwood (Cornus kousa) is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8 and closely resembles the flowering dogwood though it is native to Asia. It flowers later in spring and has slightly smaller leaves and blossoms compared to the native southeastern variety.

It is notable, however, for being resistant to anthracnose, so it is usually the top choice where this disease is a problem. It also has much larger fruit than the flowering dogwood, which is edible for both people and birds.

Kousa dogwood can be found in most nurseries across the country.

Pacific Dogwood

Pacific Dogwood

Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) is the West Coast representative of the dogwood clan and is hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10. It is more drought tolerant than the other species though it has not been bred as extensively for its ornamental traits and is not commonly used except in native plant-themed landscaping. Order one from Las Pilitas Nursery.

Its flowers are quite small, but it is very disease resistant and is the only dogwood that grows well in dry climates. It is the tallest of all the dogwood trees and can eventually grow to more than 25 feet in height.

Cornelian Cherry

Cornelian Cherry

Cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas) is native to Europe and is quite different from the other species in that it has small yellow flowers. These appear on the bare branches in late winter and make up for their small size with their great numbers.

It is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8 and is the smallest of the dogwood trees, straddling the line between a large shrub and a tiny tree. Its tiny fruits can be eaten but are usually eaten by birds before they are noticed by people.

Find Cornelian cherry at Monrovia.

Pagoda Dogwood

Pagoda Dogwood

The pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) is native to much of eastern North America and grows in USDA zones 3 to 7, making it the most cold hardy dogwood tree. Forestfarm at Pacifica sells a three to four foot sized pagoda dogwood.

It has clusters of small white flowers in spring, but is known more for its unusual growth habit – the branches grow in distinct horizontal layers around the trunk of the tree, resembling the layers of a Japanese pagoda.

A Dogwood for Every Garden

Other than in extremely arid desert regions, there is a dogwood tree available to suit the conditions faced by gardeners in any part of the country. There is also a surprising diversity of forms beyond the common white dogwood flower that most gardeners are familiar with.

Dogwood Tree

Dogwood Tree

Available in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, three-season dogwood trees boost interest to a landscape for most of the year. The intrigue begins with showy four-petal flowers from spring through summer, followed by bright red and orange foliage in the fall. Winter brings showy bright red fruit for a final splash of color.

genus name
  • Cornus
  • Part Sun,
  • Sun
plant type
  • Shrub,
  • Tree
  • 20 feet or more
  • From 10 to 15 feet
flower color
  • White,
  • Pink
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Spring Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom,
  • Colorful Fall Foliage,
  • Winter Interest
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Attracts Birds,
  • Good for Containers
  • 3,
  • 4,
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8
  • Stem Cuttings,
  • Seed

Colorful Combinations

What many people consider to be flowers are actually bracts—showy structures that range in color from soft white to deep pink. Dogwood tree’s true flowers are held in a round cluster at the center of each bract—which stay attached to the branches much longer than actual blooms. Some types of dogwood trees are grown for their true flowers, however, which are borne in clusters of small blooms that create the effect of larger blooms.

Find more of our favorite flowering trees here.

Dogwood Tree Care Must-Knows

Care requirements depend on the species of tree being grown. Dogwood trees generally prefer a well-drained soil slightly on the acidic side. The trees should be kept consistently moist, although they can tolerate occasional dry spells once established. Many species prefer organic soil, which may call for an application of compost. Heavy mulch helps these plants thrive in both summer heat and winter cold.

Dogwoods are understory trees, which is why many species have adapted to or prefer part shade—especially in the hot afternoon sun. Select varieties tolerate full sun.

In addition to bearing beautiful flowers, many species bear beautiful edible fruit that can be made into preserves. Leaving some fruit on the plant for wildlife to enjoy is especially important in the winter when little else is available.

Dogwood trees don’t need much maintenance as a rule, but pruning may be needed occasionally to shape the plant. Summer is the ideal time to prune since the plant experiences a heavy sap flow during winter and spring.

Learn how to prune dogwood trees here.

New Innovations

New varieties of dogwood trees seldom hit the market because woody trees take so long to go from the point of breeding to introduction. Dogwoods are a diverse group, however, so ornamental traits and practical traits—such as summer-heat tolerance, hardiness, and bloom time—are being worked on to create new and better plants. For example, one recent introduction features bright orange fruit instead of the more common red fruit.

More Varieties of Dogwood Tree

‘Cherokee Chief’ flowering dogwood

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Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Chief’ is an old classic variety that bears loads of ruby-pink blooms in late spring. It grows 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide in Zones 5-8.

‘Cherokee Sunset’ flowering dogwood

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Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Sunset’ is one of the most dramatic varieties. It bears deep pink flowers and yellow-edged foliage. It grows 20 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-8

‘China Girl’ dogwood

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Cornus kousa ‘China Girl’ is a free-flowering variety, even at a young age, that produces plenty of creamy white blooms. It grows 22 feet tall and 15 feet high in Zones 5-8.

‘Cloud Nine’ flowering dogwood

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Cornus florida ‘Cloud Nine’ offers large white flowers with overlapping bracts that appear in spring. The compact tree grows 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Zones 5-8

‘Golden Shadows’ dogwood

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Cornus alternifolia ‘Golden Shadows’ is a bold, eye-catching variety grown as a small tree or large shrub. It offers golden-edged foliage and has a rosy tint when it emerges in spring. It grows 15 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-8

Pink flowering dogwood

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Cornus florida ‘Rubra’ bears pink flowers in late spring. The tree grows only 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Zones 5-8

‘Milky Way’ dogwood

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Cornus kousa ‘Milky Way’ bears a generous constellation of white flowers followed by plenty of red-berried fruit. It’s disease resistant and grows 22 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Zones 5-8

‘Satomi’ dogwood

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Cornus kousa ‘Satomi’ is a disease-resistant selection with dark pink flowers in late spring. It grows 22 feet tall and 15 feet high. Zones 5-8

‘Wolf Eyes’ dogwood

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Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’ bears beautiful white flowers, but it also features stunning green foliage edged in white. Zones 5-8

Garden Plans For Dogwood Tree

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Plant of the Week

Dwarf dogwood (Cornus canadensis L.)

By Mary Stensvold

Range map of the dwarf dogwood. States are colored green where the dogwood may be found.

Dwarf dogwood in flower. Note tiny flowers clustered in the center of the inflorescence. Photo by Mary Stensvold.

Dwarf dogwood in fruit. Photo by Mary Stensvold.

Dwarf dogwood, is also known as bunchberry, bunchberry dogwood, and Canadian dwarf cornel. This perennial sub-shrub is a diminutive member of the dogwood family (Cornaceae). Dwarf dogwood is native to a broad area extending west from extreme southern Greenland across North America in boreal Canada and the northern tier of the United States (south down the Rocky Mountains into Colorado and New Mexico), across Alaska to northeastern Asia. It thrives in moist well-drained soils of forests and forest edges. In some places it is the dominant ground cover of the forest floor, in other places it can carpet stumps and fallen logs.

The erect flowering stems are generally 4-8 inches tall. The form of dwarf dogwood’s inflorescence, leaf shape and leaf venation are very similar to its relative, the flowering dogwood tree.

The flowering stems emerge from the creeping underground stem late in the spring. Leaves unfold into a whorl of four to six leaves; above these leaves the inflorescence opens and flowers bloom from May through early July.

The “flowers” of dwarf dogwood are somewhat deceptive. The four white “petals” are actually modified leaves (bracts) resembling flower petals. Clustered in the center of these four white to pinkish petal-like bracts are the numerous tiny white to greenish to purplish flowers of the dwarf dogwood. Flowers are pollinated by various flies and bees, which are attracted by the bright white petal-like bracts.

In the late summer, clusters of spherical red fruit appear on the inflorescence, thus the name bunchberry. Although the fruits are not poisonous, they are not particularly tasty, have an odd cottony texture and a single seed. The leaves become somewhat leathery, and in the autumn the leaves can turn bright colors. Since the leaves are somewhat evergreen, in protected places they can remain throughout the winter.

For More Information

PLANTS Profile -Cornus Canadensis L., bunchberry dogwood, Dwarf dogwood

Introducing Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), the edible dogwood

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Asian Kousa dogwoods (Cornus kousa) are a beautiful tree that also produce a tasty edible fruit. Here’s everything you need to know to grow, ID, and eat Kousa dogwood fruit.

Every month and season brings new foods to our table. With the arrival of late summer (it’s the end of August as of the writing of this article), The Tyrant and I decided to go check out some of our nearby urban foraging spots.

No, this did not require us to go deep down a forested trail or into the nearby mountains. Instead, we drove a couple miles to an undisclosed location (hey, we can’t give up our best spots!) where landscapers long ago decided to plant Kousa dogwoods.

The first Kousa dogwood fruit of the late summer season in Greenville, South Carolina.

Whoever this person or people were, we are enormously grateful to them. By doing so, they freed up space in our yard for other large perennial fruit & nut-producing trees. We’d initially considered growing Kousa dogwoods in our food forest, but upon finding a nearby spot full of mature Kousas, we decided against it.

Is this theft? No, unless you consider stealing fruit from squirrels, yellow jackets and other insects to be theft. As it turns out, nobody who frequents our Kousa dogwood spot seems to know that they’re an edible fruit — or if they do, they don’t care. Whatever fruit we don’t pick falls to the ground and rots, and the landscapers weed whack whatever seedlings sprout up the following year.

In this article, we’ll share everything we know about Kousa dogwoods so you can find them, grow them, and enjoy this wonderful fall fruit as well!

Your Kousa dogwood questions answered

Are dogwood fruits poisonous?

As we state in our Beginner’s guide to foraging, rule #1 of foraging or eating any new food you’re unfamiliar with is: Never eat anything you’re not 100% certain you’ve correctly ID’d AND you’re not 100% certain is edible.

The same applies to the fruit of dogwood trees, some of which are edible some of which are not:

  • Cornus florida, the dogwood species native to the Southeastern US, produces small red berries in the fall that are mildly poisonous to humans. (They’re also supposed to taste terrible, although we’ve never tried them because, well, they’re poisonous and supposed to taste bad.)
  • Cornus mas, aka Cornelian cherry dogwood, is another imported landscape plant native to Eurasia that produces an edible fruit. We’ve never eaten them, but these are supposed to be quite good, although sour. Excellent for jams and pies once the seeds are strained out.
  • Cournus kousa, aka Kousa dogwood or Asian dogood, is the subject of this article. It’s native to Japan, Korea, and China, and produces an edible fruit in late summer.

Kousa dogwood fruit – edible and quite delicious!

The fruit of Kousa dogwoods is often called a berry, but it’s technically an aggregate fruit that somewhat resembles a raspberry, although it’s much larger.

When do you harvest and eat Kousa dogwood fruit?

In our area, Kousa dogwoods produce bracts (modified leaves that look like flowers) in May. The fruit begins ripening from green to orange/red in late August and finishes up by mid-September.

How do you know when Kousa dogwood fruit is ripe?

  • the fruit’s skin should be orange-red in color with some color variability between trees and cultivars;
  • the fruit should be slightly soft to the touch (not squishy);
  • ripe fruits fall off the tree and can be gathered on the ground OR can be easily pulled off of the tree.

The Khousa dogwood fruit in my hand is not quite ripe yet (still a bit green). The ones in the bottom right corner of the picture are ripe.

What does the fruit taste like?

Kousa dogwood fruit tastes quite similar to ripe American persimmons (with zero pucker). In our experience, there is variability in taste between trees and varietals – some fruit we’ve had is deep orange in color with richer flavor, and others are yellow-fleshed and lighter in flavor.

A look inside Kousa dogwood fruit. Some trees produce yellow-fleshed fruit, others produce orange-red fleshed fruit.

How do you eat Kousa dogwood fruit?

Two negative factors about Kousa dogwood fruit are:

  1. The skin is rough and gritty/mealy, therefore shouldn’t be eaten;
  2. Most Kousa dogwood fruit has fairly large seeds inside relative to the size of the fruit (the seeds are about the size of a pomegranate seed).

That means you probably won’t want to ingest the entire fruit, skin, seeds, and all.

If you’re eating Kousa dogwood fruit fresh, the best way to do it is to pull off the stem, which makes a small opening at the top of the fruit. Then, squeeze the inner goodness into your mouth before spitting out the seeds. No, it’s not an elegant process.

How to eat a Kousa dogwood fruit from left to right.

Cooking with Kousa dogwood fruit

We’ve heard it said the Kousa dogwood makes excellent baked goods: pies, puddings, bread, etc. However, we’ve seen virtually zero recipes for Kousa dogwoods.

There’s a reason for that: it’s exceedingly difficult to separate the fruit’s pulp from the gritty/mealy skin or the seeds.

As an experiment, we tried the following:

  • squeeze out the pulp + seeds into a measuring cup leaving the skin and grit behind;
  • add 1 part water to 1 part pulp;
  • cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes to loosen the pulp from the seeds;
  • try to strain through cheesecloth to remove seeds – pulp was too dense to come through cheesecloth, but the Kousa flavored water was quite good.
  • try to strain through metal strainer, but unable to get mulch pulp from the process.

This unsuccessful attempt to strain cooked Kousa dogwood pulp through cheesecloth was closely followed by an unsuccessful attempt to strain it through a metal strainer. The liquid tasted great though!

If you have a trick for effectively and easily separating Kousa dogwood fruit pulp from the skin and seeds, please let us know! Until then, we’ll just keep eating the raw fruit.

How do you grow Kousa dogoods?

Kousa dogwoods are about as low-maintenance as trees come, so even if you don’t think you have a green thumb, you can grow them in your garden or edible landscape.

Kousa dogwood hardiness zones

Kousa doogwoods grom in USDA Agricultural Zones 5-8. If you don’t know your Ag Zone, you can find it here.

Kousa dogwood sun and soil requirements

Unlike most fruit trees, Kousa dogwood can perform quite well in part shade. They actually prefer a spot with morning sun and afternoon shade.

The spot we go to forage our Kousa dogwood fruit has trees growing in full sun and in part-full shade, so we get to see a side-by-side comparison. The full sun trees produce more fruit, but the fruits are smaller, possibly due to the soil drying out more. The trees growing in shadier spots produce less fruit, but the fruit is larger.

The Tyrant picking Kousa dogwood fruit on one of the full-sun trees.

Kousa dogwoods grow best in well-draining but moist acidic soil. They do not like wet or waterlogged soil.

If you live in hot dry area or are experiencing a drought, you’ll want to irrigate your young Kousa dogwoods – about 1″ of water per week until they’re established. After 3-5 years, they shouldn’t require additional irrigation if you regularly get rain.

To promote optimal soil moisture levels and soil fertility for your Kousa dogwoods, top-dress around the trees with 3-6″ of wood chips/mulch once or twice per year. (Read more about the benefits of using wood chips and mulches).

Are kousa dogwoods self-fertile?

Yes, kousa dogwoods are hermaphroditic, with both male and female parts on the bracts. That means you can plant only a single tree and still get fruit production.

How many years before Kousa dogwoods produce flowers or fruit?

Kousa dogwood trees take 5-7 years before they produce flowers and fruit.

How big do Kousa dogwood trees get?

Kousa dogwoods are considered small to medium sized trees. They mature to about 30 feet tall x 30 feet wide (their width and height are roughly equal at maturity) once they reach 20-30 years old.

Kousa dogwoods can live to be over 100 years. When they’re young, they grow more upright and vase shaped before spreading and rounding out into their final mature form.

The trees are a beautiful landscape plant as well. They produce beautiful white or pink bracts in late spring and have attractive foliage all summer long. In the fall, the leaves turn red and purple before dropping to reveal smooth and beautiful grey-brown bark that looks much more similar to a crepe myrtle tree’s bark than to our native dogwood.

Are Kousa dogwoods deer-resistant?

No, deer do not like Kousa dogwoods. In fact, Arbor Day Foundation lists Kousa dogwoods as “seldom severely damaged, the second highest degree of deer resistance a tree can receive.”

(If you have deer problems, be sure to read our article Dad’s trick: how to keep deer out of your garden or yard.)

Can you grow them from seeds? Where can you buy good Kousa dogwood saplings?

Yes, you can grow Kousa dogwoods from seed, but add 1-2 years to fruit production using this method relative to buying saplings.

There are quite a lot of Kousa dogwood cultivars out there with subtle differences between them. Some have pink “flowers” (technically bracts), some have white flowers. Some have orange-skinned fruit, some have red.

Ideally, find a variety bred specifically for its fruit quality. Call your local plant nurseries to see what they have available or order your Kousa dogwood saplings online.

Whether you grow your own Kousa dogwood fruit or get lucky and find nearby fruit-bearing trees, we hope you’ll enjoy this wonderful Asian fruits in the late summer each year. Happy gardening or foraging!

Other articles you might enjoy:

  • The complete guide to growing elderberry trees
  • How to grow pawpaw trees (America’s largest and tastiest native fruit)
  • Perennial power: 5 fruit or nut trees you should plant this fall


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A small tree native to Korea and other parts of Asia, the dogwood is popular as an ornamental tree to most. To herbalists, however, it is distinguished for its bright and edible dogwood fruit, commonly referred to as Kousa berries, cornus fruit and asiatic cornelian cherry.

Historically, it was a commonly used herb in the East as a mild but invigorating tonic. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), dogwood fruit is associated with improving kidney and liver health. As a tonic, the Japanese cornel fruit energizes the body and acts as a stabilizer for body fluids.

Dogwood fruit, or Asiatic cornelian cherry fruit, is from the Japanese dogwood scientifically named Cornus kousa. Other names for the tree include Japanese cornelian cherry, Korean dogwood, Chinese dogwood, strawberry dog wood tree, and kousa dogwood. It is called shanzhuyu in pinyin Chinese.

Dogwood fruit is ideal for people with liver and kidney deficiencies. People who experience leakage of fluids and excessive sweating may also take dogwood fruit.

In general, dogwood fruit astringes the essence. It means that it binds the body and addresses disorders concerning body fluids in particular. However, it is also helpful to other disorders of the body.

Health Benefits of Dogwood Fruit (Kousa, Cornus Berry)

  1. Stabilizes kidneys
  2. Tonifies liver
  3. Astringes essence
  4. Relieves frequent urination and incontinence
  5. Treats excessive sweating
  6. Stops bleeding
  7. Maintains urogenital health
  8. Controls blood disorders mellitus
  9. Acts as anti-inflammatory agent
  10. Serves as analgesic pain-reliever

Traditional Chinese medicine uses dogwood fruit to stabilize and tonify the kidney and liver. The Kousa fruit treats symptoms of weak kidney such as dizziness, body pain, and impotence. It nourishes the kidney of its deficiencies and restores the organ to revitalize its essence. As such, the cornus fruit maintains general urogenital health.

Recent studies show that the botanical iridoids cornus contains are a natural anti-inflammatory useful against diseases like inflammatory bowel syndrome, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, etc. It’s always promising to find an healthy all-natural holistic alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs.

Another significant nutrition benefit of the dogwood fruit is its ability to bind the essence. Chinese traditional medicine believes that disproportionate discharge of body fluids is a result of a non-stabilized constitution. Thus, disorders in which the body excessively discharges bodily fluids are treated with dogwood fruit which astringes the essence. The Kousa fruit is effective in treating excessive sweating, diarrhea, and urinary incontinence

In addition, cornus also treats extreme shock. Shock occurs when qi, the life force of the body, diminishes. Dogwood fruit restores energy and astringes the body in the event of qi collapse.

In instances of excessive bleeding, dogwood fruit is also effective. Because of this, herbalists recommend the fruit to women with excessive uterine bleeding and extended menses. By strengthening the binding of the body, the Kousa fruit regulates the flow of blood and controls the bleeding.

A binding and energizing herb, the dogwood fruit is certainly a beneficial medicine for one’s daily life. For the treatment of blood disorders it can be used in conjunction with other herbs like safflower, Raw Astragalus, dodder seed, radix Rehmannia, Poria, Epimedium, earthworm, Angelica, zedoary white turmeric, and Schisandra.

It’s interesting in this video that the guy picks from the fruit from a tree in New York City’s Central Park since the Benthamia kousa and Cynoxylon kousa trees are natively Asiatic.

Please check back soon as I’m researching more health benefits of cornus berries and one of them is weight loss.

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