Korean Dogwood

Cornus kousa Hance – Cornaceae – dogwood family

The Korean dogwood or kousa dogwood is a small tree that is planted uncommonly in Albion.

Korean dogwood is an Asian species, which like our native flowering dogwood, has four white bracts (modified leaves often incorrectly called “petals”) associated with each cluster of small greenish flowers.  Korean dogwood has pointed bracts while our flowering dogwood has rounded bracts.  Also, each flower cluster of Korean dogwood becomes a single spherical berry-like fruit, while each flower of our native flowering dogwood becomes a separate berry-like fruit called a drupe.

The late Smithsonian botanist, Richard Eyde, believed that Korean dogwood got its single spherical fruits from separate fruits through natural selection by macaque monkeys. These simians supposedly picked, ate, and dispersed the seeds in clustered fruits more efficiently, which over many generations favored fusion of separate fruits into a single structure.

Korean dogwood is resistant to some of the diseases that plague our native flowering dogwood in cultivation.  It is difficult to find nursery stock of our native flowering dogwood for planting, so Korean dogwood is often used as a substitute.