The Great Dogwood Mystery, Solved

There are times when I feel utterly foolish, and this is one of them.

Remember back in the spring, when I was puzzling over the “tardy dogwood” in the backyard of the Temporary Garden? The one that was two or three weeks behind the seemingly-identical dogwood next to the driveway? Flowers and leaves looked the same; only the flowering time was slightly different. Well, it’s now early October and both dogwoods are fruiting.


Cornus florida berriesThis is the driveway dogwood, which according to these berries is Cornus florida. There are actually very few of these berries; I had a hard time finding any to photograph!




Cornus kousa fruitCornus kousa detailThis, however, is the backyard dogwood. Obviously not the same species! Ooops. This tree, which is festooned with about a bazillion fruits, turns out to be Cornus kousa.

Hmmph, could’ve fooled me (and did.)

Smarting with embarassment at having assumed that both dogwoods were the same, I researched the differences between C. florida and C. kousa – other than the ridiculously obvious fruit. These are:
C. kousa leaves are a bit smaller (I admit I never measured them.)
C. kousa flowers are a bit smaller and have a very slightly greenish tinge (I might have noticed this if the trees were anywhere near each other… but then again, maybe not.)
C. kousa flowers “later in the spring and summer” (well, we’re talking three weeks, max; but the actual bloom period was definitely longer than C. florida.)

The kousa is absolutely loaded with fruits from top to bottom which, although they are undoubtedly decorative at the moment, are going to pose a massive cleanup problem if not eaten by birds — and, barring the arrival of a Hitchcockian-size flock of starving starlings, I can’t imagine that happening. Besides, they are pretty darn large and I have no idea which birds would even attempt to eat them.

Now excuse me as I slink away, face red with shame for not being able to differentiate between this duo of duplicitous dogwoods!

  9 comments for “The Great Dogwood Mystery, Solved

  1. October 7, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Never mind the birds. You can eat them yourself. Cornus kousa berries are edible.

    • October 7, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      Interesting! However, because many common fruits disagree with me, I shall refrain from experimenting. 🙂

  2. October 7, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Been there, done that!! Funny post–interesting what Chloris says about the fruits. Berry cobbler, maybe?

  3. October 7, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Never tried Cornus kousa fruit, please let us know what they are like if you dare!

    • October 7, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      I’m probably the farthest thing from an “adventurous eater” on the planet, LOL. (though out of necessity rather then preference, unfortunately)

  4. October 7, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    I’ve never tried dogwood fruit – I would be interested to know what they taste like…I have heard they taste like a mango, but that still wouldn’t tempt me try it.
    Here, in addition to the large birds, possums usually polish off dogwood fruits: maybe the squirrels will oblige in your area so you don’t need to clean up 🙂

    • October 7, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      There certainly are a lot of squirrels about! I assume they are grabbing the earliest acorns (another mess in the making, ugh) but perhaps they will look on the kousa berries as ‘dessert’? I hope so!

  5. October 7, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Oh my gosh…I can’t believe we both used the word Hitchcockian in our posts! We are starting to think alike! 🙂

  6. October 8, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Around here C. florida, if it lives through the winter, will not give much if any fruit. But C. kousa is fruitful. I have been told the birds really prefer C. florida or one of the shrub dogwoods. As you say, the fruits of C. kousa (an Asian tree) are too large for most birds.

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