This month, our tree specialists at Glendale Civic Trees recommend Cornus kousa for its year-round aesthetic characteristics.

Where does it grow?

Commonly known as Kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa is a small deciduous tree belonging to the Cornaceae family.  It originates from East Asia. 

In 1875, the first scientific observations of the Kousa dogwood were recorded in the united states.  With its year-round visual appeal, this tree is the perfect choice for home landscapes and urban areas. 

Why is it cultivated?

The Cornus kousa is cultivated as an ornamental tree, ideal for use in oriental-inspired landscapes and gardens.

What conditions does it prefer?

Cornus kousa favours full sunlight to partial shade, with an average moisture, clay-type soil.  It is not known to withstand drought temperatures, so it is recommended that the soil is kept moist throughout the summer months with an irrigation system. 

What does it look like up close? 

Cornus kousa has a slow-to-medium growth rate, and does not usually exceed a height of six-metres.  In summer, the tree is adorned with what appear to be four-petal cream flowers, but in actuality they are bracts positioned in front of the tree’s normal, green-yellow foliage. The delicate bracts last for several weeks, and are pollinated by insects.  Entering the autumn months, the foliage becomes a showy red-colour, perfectly complimenting a late-year sunset.

The tree also has globular, strawberry-like fruits all year round, which ripen between August and October.  When ripe, in mid-summer, they turn a scarlet-red and develop their full flavour and sweetness. 

Any distinctive features?

The most distinctive feature of the Kousa dogwood is its upright shape that gradually broadens with age, taking on an umbrella-like aspect, making it a popular choice as an ornamental tree.  As it becomes older, the bark of the Cornus kousa develops a mottled character, revealing a varied mix of grey and mahogany-brown tones. 

Interesting facts:

  • The flowers on the Cornus kousa are actually bracts, a modified leaf like those seen on poinsettia, below a cluster of yellow-green flowers
  • The fruit on the Kousa dogwood is edible and can be used to make wine
  • The bark can take on a camouflage pattern

Our recommendations:

Deric Newman, sales manager at Civic Trees, comments: “Cornus kousa is an elegant tree, ideal as a specimen tree in a large garden or arboretum.  However, it also works well as part of a colourful border, or against a backdrop of deciduous woodland. 

“However, we’d recommend that the tree is situated in full-sun where possible, or tucked up against a warm wall to give it enough heat during the summer months for the wood to ripen and take on its colour-change qualities.” 

To find out more about the tree of the month and if it will work well in your project contact our team: 0208 950 4491 or info@civictrees.co.uk.

If you enjoyed this why not try our Tree of the Month recommendation for June.