That tree loaded with white flowers is Cornus kousa

The Islands might be flooded, and the record-setting lake levels are eroding the boardwalk. But all that rain in spring 2019 has had one wonderous side effect. The flowers on Korean dogwoods (Cornus kousa) this year are stop-in-your-tracks abundant.

It spread its laden arms and beckoned to me. Come hither!

I had to pull over to capture this one exploding in white fireworks, just in time for Canada Day and the Fourth of July.

Most of the flowering action is on the south side and the uppermost strata. This tree prefers the holy grail of cultural conditions: full sun and rich, moist soil. Actually, that’s misleading, as the true holy grail adds “slightly acidic” to the formula. Unlike its native North American cousin Cornus florida, which flowers earlier, the Korean dogwood is a little more tolerant of lower acidity. Here’s cultural info from the Morton Arboretum.

Nice bark, too!

This one on a modest lane-like street in the east end is glorious right now. Yes, glorious is the technical term! It’s flowering all the way through, right down to the base.

The large “flowers” are really showy bracts, so they tend to last longer than petals would.

The centres of flowering dogwoods are the true flowers, and can turn into bumpy red fruits, said to be edible. I’ll have to remember to return to report on the fruiting and fall colour of this tree, now that it has tapped me sharply on the shoulder to announce itself.

This is the north face of the tree – still a respectable show.

Have you noticed a big bump in flowering on dogwoods near you this year?


  1. I just posted about the one I saw on the grounds of the Guild Inn on Monday! BEAUTIFUL! There was a pink one, too, but not sure of variety — “Stellar”? I just tagged you both on that post in the Toronto Gardeners FB page.

    1. Hi, Traci-Anna, the pink Kousas tend to be true pink, but it is possible for white flowering dogwoods to fade to pink as they age. I saw your FB comment and gave a similar reply.

  2. Wonderful! I did notice a fully blooming dogwood in my area recently, thank you for reminding me.

    1. I’ve admired them in OPGs (Other People’s Gardens) before, but they truly have been showy this year. It has to have been the rain – and, now, the sunshine.

  3. Aren’t they gorgeous this year? My neighbour has one in a pinkish hue. It is really spectacular this year. Now if I only had space …

    1. I have a little variegated Kousa dogwood called ‘Summer Fun’ that grows to about 12 feet/4 meters. Mine has been pruned as a standard, but the TBG has one by the waterfall in the courtyard that is grown as a shrub. Mine rarely flowers, and when it does the bracts are often variegated like the foliage. But this year I have about half a dozen all-white blooms, and I noticed the TBG’s is more or less the same. It’s a good fit for my small garden – though not showy in the same way.

  4. No difference in dogwood flowers here that I noticed. Nice that you noticed the blooms extend down to the base.

    1. I see you’re in Virginia, Ray. If your flowering dogwoods flower this heavily every year, that’s another reason for me to envy you “southern” gardeners!

    1. Glad to learn it’s a consistent pattern, Clement. I don’t get out to the west end as often as I’d like!

  5. I have eaten the fruits in the fall after the skin turns red and the pulp has become soft (I don’t suggest eating the rough skin or the seeds, just the pulp); I would say that “edible” is an accurate description;they are not particularly delicious to me, but fun to try!
    And, yes, the kousas have been particularly showy this year (both in New York and Connecticut,USA).In the past, I have been disappointed in the pink cultivars, but I have seen some pink beauties this year.

  6. I have a flowing dogwood and the leaves are curling up and turning brown
    What is causing this

    This is my first time with this question

    1. Carol, if you’re in the Toronto area then the leaf curl and browning on your dogwood likely due at least in part to the high heat and, until this week, drought of summer 2020. It has been a challenging year for the garden.

  7. Where can I purchasea Cornus Kousa Little Poncho aka Little Poncho Dogwood in the Toronto area? Would love one for my little garden.

    1. Finding a specific cultivar often requires detective work. One step might be to go to your favourite independent garden centre (such as Mason House Gardens in Uxbridge, I’d include the Sheridan Nurseries chain throughout the GTA or Valleyview Gardens in Markham) and ask if they can find it for you. Try to find someone at the management end who would be most knowledgeable about rare specimens. Another option would be to try a tree specialist nursery such as Vineland Nurseries in the Niagara region – click on their names for a link to their sites. Good luck with your search!

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