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Cornus kousa

Cornus kousa

This is the fourth dogwood to be featured on BPotD. By revisiting the other three, you can get some idea of the diversity of floral structure within the genus: Cornus chinensis, Cornus macrophylla and Cornus 'Eddie's White Wonder'. The white petal-like structures seen here are actually modified leaves called bracts. A plant in a closely related family, the Nyssaceae, also has subtending bracts: Davidia involucrata 'Sonoma'.

The fruits of kousa dogwood are edible (see the Plants for a Future entry on Cornus kousa), but I wouldn't eat them in quantity. Apparently, members of both the Cornaceae and Nyssaceae share the characteristic of being aluminum accumulators (source: description of “Cornaceae + Nyssaceae” on the Cornales page of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group site).

Photography resource link: Nature Revealed, the photography of Jeff Jessing. Browse through the galleries for inspiration.


Memories: My parents had a 35 year old specimen in their backyard. It was perfectly shaped with older trunk growth slowly engrossing the lower limbs. The bark was mottled with a large patchwork of greys and browns. We had a hammock underneath. My parents even had their prom picture taken in front it some 25 years ago.

Cornus kousa - Z5 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
Cornus kousa - Z5-8 - A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk

Now being badly overplanted in Seattle. Some blocks have multiple individuals arranged all around in different spots, often too small for their later growth--lopping them back is not an option unless you don't mind spoiling them.

An older one in a Seattle park had an average crown spread of 41 feet in 1987.

It is stated in this fact sheet that the fruits of the Kousa Dogwood are edible. This is not true, the seeds and parts of this plant are poisonus if ingested.

Johnny, other than one site on the web, I can't find anything else to corroborate the poisonous assertion - in fact, I've found the opposite. See: Can I eat the red fruits of dogwoods? from the US National Arboretum.

The fruits on Cornus kousa are indeed edible and can be quite tasty if left to ripen. A mean stomach ache will follow eating to many of them though.

What are the bits of pink amongst the blossoms ? The tree is gorgeous, and having a hammock beneath sounds heavenly.

A wholesaler I use has had Japanese customers eating the fruit of a Cornus kousa 'Norman Hadden'. They have also eaten the fruits of an Arbutus unedo. So not deadly I guess!

Marilyn (sorry for the late reply), the pink is likely due to a colour cast in the photograph -- I don't know if that is actually there if seen in person. Unless you mean the dots in the centre of each blossom? Those are the actual parts of the flower, whereas the white parts which most assume are petals are actually bracts (leaf tissue).

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