Kornus cousa treeKornus cousa Kornus kousa

Another interesting tree in bloom at this time of year is the yama-boshi dogwood (Cornus kousa). Like the satsuki azalea, this is a native tree that grows wild in the mountains, but is also planted as an ornamental in parks and gardens, which to me means it’s easy to find a specimen willing to part with a flower or two. (Actually, the poor tree has no say in the matter, but I do offer up my sincerest apologies and thanks, and try to make sure I put the pinched specimens to good use.)

This dogwood flower is really not a single flower at all, but a collection of several dozen tiny florets, subtended by four white structures which botanists call involucre bracts. These bracts surround and protect the florets in their developing stage, then open out and help advertise once the florets are ready to bloom. Each tiny floret has four stamens and one pistil.

Some people confuse the yama-boshi with the hana-mizuki, or flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), which is a very popular park and street tree. The flowering dogwood, however, is native to North America, and does not grow wild here. The flower structures of these two trees are very similar, but the involucre bracts on the yama-boshi taper to a point, while those on the hana-mizuki pinch in toward the center. Also, in most areas the hana-mizuki is already finished blooming before the yama-boshi flowers begin to open.

Several more dogwood species are native to Japanese forests, but these do not sport the distinctive involucre bracts. The common English name dogwood is thought to have originally been dag-wood–a dag being a short pointed object (like a dagger). In the past, the wood of these trees was used to make sharply pointed skewers for roasting pieces of meat and vegetables over an open fire.

If you become interested in the Ericaceae, you might wind up spending the rest of your life climbing around Japanese mountains. Many of the local species in this family are incredibly tiny, ground-hugging shrubs that grow only on exposed ledges way up above the tree line on the highest mountains.

(Jun. 12, 2006)  Source: Daily Yomiuri

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Yesterday, on Sunday at a neighborhood playground, we spotted this strawberry like fruit all over a tree and on the playground floor. One family was examining the fruit and the mother said “kimochi warui”…gross…like a poisonous toadstool growing on a tree!

It was the cornelian cherry or “strawberry” or the Japanese Strawberry Dogwood tree (Cornus Kousa).

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION  
C. alba
(Tatarian dogwood)

C. alba ‘Argenteo-marginata’
(Silver-edged dogwood)

C. alba
(Siberian dogwood)

C. canadensis

(Bunchberry)
‘Sibirica’C. florida
(Flowering dogwood)

C. kousa
(Kousa or Japanese dogwood)

C. mas
(Cornelian cherry)

C. nuttallii
(Pacific, Western or Mountain dogwood)

C. sericea, also called C. stolonifera
(Red osier dogwood)

C. sericea ‘Flaviramea’
(Yellow-twigged dogwood)

The Asiatic dogwoods are prominent in Japanese gardens. Planted near the house as a specimen, the bushy Kousa dogwood bears flowers on the upper side of its branches. The Japanese cornelian cherry is frequently situated in garden corners where its blossoms are the first sign of spring. Both deciduous trees can be located near the base of a hill, where their spreading branches, pruned to accentuate their arching shape, will follow the line of the hillside; or they can be placed against dark backgrounds in order to intensify their pale flowers.

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The Kousa dogwood is native to both Korea and Japan. It reaches a maximum height of 15 to 20 feet and spreads 8 to 10 feet wide. Great quantities of snowy-white flowers, 3 to 4 inches across, cover its horizontal branches in early summer, about a month later than native American dog-woods bloom. The bark of the tree peels in oddly shaped patches, disclosing paler bark beneath. Its leaves, which unfold before the flowers, are pointed ovals, 4 inches long, that turn scarlet in fall. In autumn, the Kousa dogwood bears red, strawberry-like fruit.

The Japanese cornelian cherry is a dense shrubby tree that grows slowly when young, but the rate increases with time, and the tree eventually reaches a height of 15 to 25 feet. Clusters of 3/4-inch yellow flowers blossom at the tips of branches in early spring, before the oval 3-inch leaves appear. Oval red fruits, resembling cherries, ripen in summer.

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HOW TO GROW. Both the Kousa dogwood and the
Japanese cornelian cherry are hardy in Zones 5-8. They tolerate partial shade but do best in full sun and grow in any moist, but well-drained, rich soil. The Kousa dogwood may be pruned in early spring, but keep pruning to a minimum as wounds heal slowly. The cornelian cherry should not be pruned until after blossoms fade, since the flowers appear on the previous year’s growth. Propagate from seeds or from cuttings of mature wood taken in late summer

More info below from this source.

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