Georgia Gardener Newsletter Cool Plant: June 29, 2006

Pagoda Dogwood
Cornus alternifolia

Despite the Oriental-sounding name, the Pagoda Dogwood (aka Alternate-leaved Dogwood) is native to the eastern U.S. from the Canadian border southward practically to the Gulf Coast.

This is a spectacular, disease resistant tree that doesn't resemble its common cousin the Florida Dogwood (Cornus florida) at all. Unlike other dogwoods, the leaves of the Pagoda Dogwood are not opposite, but arranged alternately or whorled. The white flowers are tiny but arranged in showy flat clusters (see below). Whereas the fruit of the Florida Dogwood is red, the Pagoda Dogwood has dark blue fruit clustered together on red stems (see close-up below). The branches of the Pagoda Dogwood are often horizontal giving the tree a layered look. The mature size of the Pagoda Dogwood is similar to that of the Florida Dogwood: 15-25 feet tall and 15-30 feet wide.

Pagoda Dogwoods seem to do fine in full sun as well as partial shade and do not appear to have problems with powdery mildew and spot anthracnose. This is a great plant for birds who love the fruit of both the Florida and Pagoda Dogwoods.

I have always loved this tree, but up until now have not often recommended it because it's not commonly available. However, I've been pleased to see the trees in several nurseries and hope that they will continue to carry them. I have been told but cannot confirm that the Georgia Champion Pagoda Dogwood lives in Suwanee.

Flowering in mid April:

Close-up of the fruit:

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