Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is a small to medium deciduous trees with an oval to spreading crown and short trunk. Leaves are pointed with a pale underleaf. Branches are often conspicuously layered with dark green foliage. Twigs are light brown, greenish, or purplish with large, pointed flower buds. Bark is thin, orange, gray, and brown with peeling scales. Fruits form red to pink balls that are upright or hanging on stalks and appear between August and October. Flowers are pointed, white bracts that appear before leaves. Nave to China, Korea, and Japan, Kousa dogwood was first introduced to the United States by G.R. Hall in 1861 or 1862. Today they are very common and a superb ornamental, due to the spring flower, decorative bark, and red fruit as well as because of its resistance to the anthracnose disease that disfigures the native dogwoods. The tree has become naturalized in New York State. Unlike North American (C. florida) and European dogwoods (C. mas), Kousa dogwoods have hanging, raspberry like fruits; moreover the bark and tree shape are characteristic. The genus name cornu means horn in refernce to the strength and density of the wood. Cornus means “tough (referring to the wood) in Latin.. It is called “dogwood” because the stiff branches of C. sanguinea were used as dags (daggers) or skewers. Cornus is the Latin name for Cornelian Cherry tree.
Common name: Kousa Dogwood, Japanese Strawberry Tree
Scientific Name (family and order): Cornus kousa Hance (Cornaceae, Cornales)
Species Origin: Japan
New Jersey Status: USDA Introduced
Habit: Broadly columnar; perennial
Habitat: Zone 5 -8. Mountain woods.
Trunk/Stem: Bark red-brown smooth mottled tan and brown, peeling in irregular plates with age. Trunk short; usually multi-stemmed tree. Broad crown of low slender spreading branches.
Leaves: Deciduous, Simple, Opposite. Ovate, 3” long and 2” wide, taper-pointed with wavy margin, untoothed dark green and smooth above; smooth with tufts of brown hair in the vein axils beneath. veins opposite, pinnate 4 – 5 pairs paralleling the margin.
Flowers: Perfect. Tiny yellow-white or greenish numerous in dense hemispherical long-stalked upright clusters each cluster surrounded by four creamy-white or pink-tinged, taper-pointed bracts in early summer. Flowers in umbel-like inflorescence; 4 sepals tiny, 4 petals 4 – 6 mm; ovary inferior.
Fruits and seeds: Fruits individually small, drupes, clustered together in a fleshy, strawberry-like, edible red, pendulous head on a long peduncle.