Late-blooming dogwoods

Several types of dogwood bloomed well into late June. Gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa) and silky dogwood (Cornus amomum) are native species that form shrubby thickets rather than becoming single trees. Both have excellent small flower displays and berries that are highly beneficial for wildlife. A gray dogwood thicket at a woods edge

The silky dogwood prefers sunny wet conditions and is often used for streambank stabilization and in wetland areas. The gray dogwood grows well in sun or in a shaded understory. It can form an impressive 10 by 10 thicket at the woods edge. Both of these species tolerate neutral or slightly alkaline soils.

A less common native dogwood that also blooms later than the well-known Cornus florida is the alternate-leaf or pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia).This tree is native to mountainous areas with medium moisture. In sun or shade in slightly acidic, neutral or slightly alkaline soils it can grow to a 25-foot-tall tree with a wider spread. Forty-three species of birds enjoy its fruits. All of these native dogwoods host beneficial insects that are so important to the birds now feeding their young.

A non-native in bloom now is the Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa) also known as Korean, Chinese, or Japanese dogwood since this tree hails from that part of the world. Kousa dogwoods have and upright appearance and their leaves and flowers have a more pointed appearance than does the native flowering dogwood which this tree closely resembles.

The Kousa dogwood blooms in early June in Frederick County long after it has leafed out. Kousa dogwoods have more resistance to dogwood anthracnose so they are planted as an alternative to flowering dogwood and they are crossed with natives to produce cultivars with more resistance to disease.

The Stellar series of dogwoods introduced in the 1990s are crosses between the native and kousa dogwoods. The fruit of the Kousa is very distinct and is used in winemaking in its native land. Some larger birds eat its fruit, but it does not support any beneficial insects; in contrast, the native dogwood (Cornus florida) supports over a hundred species of butterflies and moths. Evolving together with flowering dogwoods, beneficial insects have adapted to use native trees as a source of food and habitat.

Article by FCFCDB member

Nature Note for 7/13/14