Similar to its distant cousin, flowering dogwood, the Chinese or Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) creates an uproarious floral display in late Spring. Despite flowering fashionably late after its leaves have completely unfolded, it’s still a spectacular sight to see the longlasting white four-pointed bracts of Kousa dogwood nestled comfortably above the leaves.
The flowers give rise to unique rosy-red fruits that look like raspberries on a stick; they are edible but insipid. Unlike the alligator-like bark of C. florida, the aging trunk of C. kousa exhibits beautiful flaking mottled bark patterns on a smooth trunk.
Kousa dogwood has better drought tolerance than flowering dogwood, and can be sited in full sun or partial shade. Dogwood borers and foliar diseases rarely attack this species.
To capture the beauty and durability of both species, plant breeders have crossed kousa with flowering dogwood to create an exciting collection of hybrids touted for their insect and disease resistance. Recently, NC State Professor, Tom Ranney, created a hybrid between the pink-bracted Miss Satomi kousa dogwood and the evergreen Summer Passion Hong Kong dogwood (Cornus hongkongensis). The resulting offspring is called NCCH1 (Little Ruby™), a compact shrub or tree that bears four or more rose-pink bracts in late spring to early summer and burgundy-red fall color. NCCH1 has the added bonus of heat tolerance and disease resistance.
Bob Polomski, 2015 (R)