TREES & plants

Kousa dogwood

Kousa dogwood is an excellent small specimen tree, especially when it is used as a foundation planting near the corner of a house to break up vertical lines. Two of this plant's outstanding characteristics are four-petaled, white flowers that appear above the foliage in June and reddish-purple fall color. This tree benefits from a layer of mulch to maintain a cool root environment.

Botanical name: 
Cornus kousa
All Common Names: 
Kousa dogwood
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • City parkway
  • Wide median
  • Residential and parks
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Shade
  • Mixed border
  • Patio/sidewalk
Size Range: 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
Mature Height: 
20-30 feet
Mature Width: 
21-30 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Prefers
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Attractive bark
  • Showy flowers
  • Spring blossoms
  • Edible fruit
  • Showy fruit
  • Fall color
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter
  • Mid winter
  • Late winter
  • Late spring
  • Early summer
  • Late summer
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Pink
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Round
  • Broad
  • Spreading
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Transplants Well: 
  • Moderate
  • Insect pollinators
More Information: 

Size and Form

20 to 30 feet high and wide; at maturity a rounded form with distinctly horizontal branches

Tree & Plant Care

 A shallow-rooted tree that will benefit with a layer of mulch  for a cool root environment.

Disease, pests and problems

This plant struggles in heavy clay soil.  
Borers are a possible problem.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

More resistant to drought than flowering dogwood.
Resistant to the anthracnose (Discula) that is common on flowering dogwood.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Asia.

Attracts birds & butterflies

Serves as a larval host for the spring/summer azure butterfly and a nectar host for the snout butterfly.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is gray-brown and slightly exfoliating.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, opposite, 2 to 4 inch long with entire margins, elliptical shape;  dark green leaves change to a burgundy-red in fall. 

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

This tree blooms 2-3 weeks after native dogwoods.
True flowers are inconspicuous. 1 to 2 inch, white pointed bracts appear above the foliage and persist for several weeks.

Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa)Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa)photo: John Hagstrom

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Large, attractive, 1 inch, raspberry-like fruit (drupe) appear in August.