CORNUS continued
last updated 20/10/2014

Cornus kousa and its cultivars

These are the hardiest of the trio and in many ways the most suited to the rather damp British climate. They tend also to be more shade tolerant and will thrive in a woodland situation. However, they can be supremely effective as individual specimens.

They generally form a small tree, eventually up to 5m. Initially upright in habit they develop spreading branches which are smothered with flowers in June from almost the first year. Most years will see them flower later than the nuttalliis or floridas, so extending the season.

The bracts are usually cream or white, although there are pinks. Their shape varies from star-like where the bracts are narrower and more pointed, to quite rounded and almost over-lapping. In some cases, they unfurl as greeny star-shaped bracts initially, then open out and enlarge as they develop. Indeed, others continue to mature to a rich pink.

The rich bronze and crimson autumn colours are lovely but generally not quite as vivid as found with the nuttalliis. Variegated forms are available but there is not the diversity that there is with the floridas. However, some forms freely produce very attractive large strawberry-like fruits, which are edible though I canít recommend them!

This year we have a superb range of these spectacular trees; most of these new varieties have come from the United States, and few are available elsewhere in Europe at present! Don't let the admittedly excessive range bewilder and befuddle you - telephone for advice if you wish. Remember that unless you want a very specific feature, most of the named forms are really rather similar! The important thing is to opt for a grafted, named cultivar because they have all been selected as something rather special, with the important benefit of flowering from a younger age.

Please note that they are listed alphabetically by cultivar name (ie with no regard as to whether they are cultivars of Cornus kousa var. chinensis or not.) With differing opinions as to where some should be classified, I hope this makes it easier to find things.

See also the hybrids Cornus 'Norman Hadden', 'Cornus Kenwyn Clapp' and the so-called Rutgers hybrids.

CORNUS kousa 'Akebana'
A pink selection originating in Japan.

CORNUS kousa 'All Summer'
Nice form with dense branching and good foliage. Long lasting bracts as the name implies!

CORNUS kousa 'Akatsuki'

CORNUS kousa 'Autumn Rose'
This is a delightful American selection, whose bracts open light green before maturing to soft white. However, it is the foliage which makes this one unique - the yellow to lime green spring growth gives way to green wavy leaves in summer which develop myriad shades of pink to red autumn colours. It seems to lack the vigour of most kousa cultivars, which makes it suitable for small gardens although it does need a kind site.

CORNUS kousa 'Beni Fuji' 
This exciting new introduction has dark pink flowers. The deep green leaves also have bright red petioles and veining giving a striking contrast. By comparison to Satomi, the flowers are a little darker and do not have the creamy eye. Also bushier habit.

CORNUS kousa 'Big Apple'
Large spreading tree with heavy textured dark green leaves and extremely large fruit.

CORNUS kousa 'Blue Shadow'
Another fantastic American selection which seems to be extremely robust. The leaves are larger and more substantial than most, being a rich bluish green in colour. Reddish autumn colour. Long-lasting white bracts and fruit. Particularly heat tolerant.

CORNUS kousa var. chinensis 'Bodnant' 
Possibly my favourite of the basic white flowered forms of C. kousa. The young stems are distinctly purple and the large creamy white bracts are freely produced. It also sets fruit freely. These resemble large strawberries. I am told that they are edible but I have never felt inclined to try them!

CORNUS kousa 'Bump'
A dwarf form of bushy habit. More shrub than tree, but heavy flowering despite its lack of stature. Excellent exfoliating bark is an unexpected bonus.

Back to Previous Page

More Cornus

Go Back to Top of Page