Cornus kousa - Kousa Dogwood
Family: Cornaceae

Hear the scientific name

Cornus kousa is a multi-season small tree. Kousa Dogwood is noted for its early summer, long-lasting flowers, autumn fruits, good summer foliage and occasional autumn color, winter bark, layered branching, and vased habit.

Alternate common name: Chinese Dogwood

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form2 form Form

-small deciduous ornamental tree

-maturing at about 20' tall x 20' wide

-upright vased growth habit in youth, with branches becoming horizontally layered with age

-slow growth rate

foliage2 foliage Foliage

-opposite, broad elliptic, sometimes with undulating leaf margins, with the major leaf veins parallel to the curving leaf margins

-medium to dark green, to 3" long, often having scorched leaf tips and leaf margins by late summer if sited in full sun, and during prolonged dry periods

-autumn color ranges from an inconsistent reddish purple (in full sun) to green or yellowish green (in partial shade)


-the true flowers are small yellow-green inflorescences centered among the 4, showy, white bracts, each obovate and distinctly acuminate, the entire inflorescence is about 3" wide

-inflorescences are prominently lifted above the stem and branch plane by 2" tall vertical peduncles

-flowering in June and early July, with a 4-6 week bloom period, including the early period when the bracts are small, lime-colored, and expanding


-globular green fruits turn to pink, then dull red in Sept., resembling large solitary upright raspberries on a 2" peduncle (fruiting stalk)

-intriguing in contrast to the green foliage, but fruit set is usually light, sparsely scattered above the foliage, and readily eaten by birds and squirrels


-tan to dark brown and very slender, with numerous lenticels

-vegetative buds are thin and conical, while the floral buds are pointed and oval, with the 2 floral bud scales slightly separated at the edge of the bud

trunk2 trunk Trunk

-multi-trunked, or single-trunked with low branching

-light brown-gray trunks are interrupted by smooth yellow-beige or dark gray-white blotches that make the bark rather ornamental with age

-bark becomes more mottled and ornamental if the lower branches of the tree are removed with maturity, exposing the lower trunks to more light

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-full sun to partial shade

-adaptable to dry soils, compacted soils, and neutral to alkaline soils; needs irrigation during the hot, dry periods of summer, to minimize leaf scorch, especially during establishment (ca. 3 yrs.)

-no serious disease or pest problems

-abundantly available

-much more pH adaptable to alkaline pH soils and is often more tolerant of dry soils than is Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)


-zones 5 to 8


-native to the Orient

U   S   A   G   E


-small ornamental tree with four-season appeal (foliage, flowers, fruits, bark, shape, and bark)

-very long-lasting and showy flowers, blooming in late spring and early summer

-ornamental bark with age

-superior disease/pest resistance among the showy Flowering Dogwoods


-not especially tolerant of urban stresses (but usually more so than Flowering Dogwood)


-specimen, foundation, entranceway, border, understory, focal point, or seasonal accent small tree


-medium in foliage and medium-fine when bare

-thick density in foliage and when bare

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-trees with showy flowers and ornamental bark (Cercis canadensis, Chionanthus retusus, Cornus florida, Crataegus viridis 'Winter King', Syringa reticulata, etc.)

-vase-shaped companion trees (Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan', Zelkova serrata, etc.) or shrubs (Euonymus alatus, Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum 'Mariesii', etc.)


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