Pagoda dogwood is an excellent native plant for the four season garden. The unique horizontal branching pattern has a distinct tiered habit, often catching snow in the winter. Clusters of white flowers show up in spring, dark green foliage turns a beautiful burgundy-red in fall, and blue-black berries attract many birds. Pagoda dogwood makes an excellent small tree or large shrub in a shade garden or for naturalizing.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All common names:
- Residential and parks,
- Under utility lines
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Mixed border,
- Small tree (15-25 feet),
- Compact tree (10-15 feet),
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Dry sites
- Moderately Tolerant
- Spring blossoms,
- Fall color,
- Fragrant flowers,
- Showy fruit,
- Showy flowers
Season of Interest:
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Late winter,
- Late spring,
- Early summer,
- Mid summer,
- Late summer,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Game birds,
- Small mammals,
- Water birds
Tree & Plant Care
A native, low-branched tree or large shrub reaching 15 to 25 feet high and wide.
Prefers moist, slightly acidic, well-drained soil.
If planted in full sun, the shallow root system benefits with a layer of mulch to moderate soil temperature and conserve moisture.
Best in part shade, protected from wind.
Disease, pests and problems
The tree is susceptible to minor leaf infections and golden stem canker.
Disease, pests and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to the northern portion of the eastern United States.
Bark color and texture
A wine-purple to brown bark with vertical tan lenticels.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, alternate, oval leaves about 4 inches long; leaves are medium green with pale underside; leaf margins are wavy.
Leaves turn reddish-purple in fall.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Small white flowers in 2 inch wide, flat-topped clusters.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Clusters of bluish-black berries (drupes) and red peduncles (flower stalks); ripens in July.
Gold Bullion™ Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia 'Bachone'): Golden yellow foliage turns chartruse-yellow in the fall. Plants reach 8 to 10 feet high and wide.
Golden Shadows™ Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia 'W. Stackman'): A variegated form with creamy-white margins; best grown in part shade.