Kousa Dogwood

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
The kousa dogwood, which belongs to the Cornales order and the Cornaceae family, is an angiosperm. It is one of the sixty-five dogwood species that belong to the Cornus genus. This kousa dogwood is located in Bethesda, Maryland in an area with a large tree population. Several other kousa dogwood trees live nearby.
Ella Stark
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Date of tree entry: 
4.27 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.66 m

The kousa dogwood's bark has patches with different colors and shapes. This is due to the process of exfoliation. As the tree grows and its trunk increases in diameter, fissures form in the bark's thin top layer. This layer then starts to peel in certain places, revealing a new bark layer beneath. This results in the multi-colored, patchy appearance of the bark.
Twigs & branches
The tree has many branches, and these branches extend upward and outward from the trunk, giving the tree its vase-like shape.
The plant's small flowers are surrounded by large green leaves. These leaves are simple and are oppositely arranged. They have an ovate shape and have acute bases, acute apices, and entire margins. The tree is deciduous.
Reproductive Structures
The kousa dogwood is an angiosperm and has small green flowers. The flowers are actinomorphic and epigynous. Each flower has multiple carpels and has between four and 15 stamens. The flowers are also surrounded by white bracts, which usually bloom in May or June. These bracts look like petals, but they are actually modified leaf structures.
The kousa dogwood produces small fruits that are red or pink in color. These fruits are drupes, so each one has one seed. These fruits attract songbirds and squirrels, who eat the fruits and disperse the tree's seeds.
  • Kousa Dogwood -- Winter (February 2021)
  • Kousa Dogwood -- Spring (April 2021)
  • Kousa Dogwood -- Summer (June 2020)
Natural range of distribution: 
The kousa dogwood can thrive in a rather wide range of habitats. The plant can be found in most U.S. states, excluding some state in the Midwest and Northwest United States, as well as Florida. The tree prefers areas with full or partial exposure to sun and grows best in loamy soil that is littered with mulch or leaves. Additionally, the kousa dogwood is more resistant to pests and diseases than other dogwood species are.
Origin, history, and uses: 

The kousa dogwood was originally found only in China, Japan, and Korea. Because of this, the kousa dogwood has many alternative common names, including Japanese dogwood, Chinese dogwood, and Japanese flowering dogwood. The first kousa dogwood in the United States was found in 1875. 

An old legend also links dogwood trees to Christianity, specifically to Easter. The legend claims that, in the distant past, dogwood trees were much larger than they are now. The legend explains that the wood used to build the cross on which Jesus was crucified was taken from a dogwood tree. Thus, the legend claims, God cursed dogwood trees, declaring that they must always remain small and have thin, jagged branches (so that no one could ever again use dogwoods to build crosses for crucifixions). The legend then states that God also blessed dogwood trees, giving them their characteristic white bracts, which bloom around Easter each year. These bracts were added so that those who saw dogwoods would admire their beauty and reflect on the crucifixion. This legend is particularly well-known in some southern states.


Arledge, Patricia M., and Kenneth W. Sharpe. “Interesting Exfoliating Bark.” LSU Ag Center, Louisiana State University, 24 Aug. 2011, www.lsuagcenter.com/portals/our_offices/parishes/livingston/features/anr…. Accessed 29 Apr. 2021.

Berry, Paul E. “Cornales.” Britannica, Britannica, www.britannica.com/plant/Cornales#ref992712. Accessed 29 Apr. 2021.

“Easter and the Legend of the Dogwood Tree.” Plant Me Green, Simpson Nurseries, 25 Mar. 2020, www.plantmegreen.com/blogs/news/easter-and-the-legend-of-the-dogwood-tree. Accessed 29 Apr. 2021.

“Family: Cornaceae.” Go Botany, Native Plant Trust, 2021, gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/family/cornaceae/. Accessed 29 Apr. 2021.

Gilman, Edward F., and Dennis G. Watson. “Cornus Kousa: Kousa Dogwood.” University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Nov. 1993, edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/st191. Accessed 29 Apr. 2021.

“Kousa Dogwood (Japanese Dogwood).” Arbor Day Tree Guide, Arbor Day Foundation, www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/TreeDetail.cfm?ItemID=830. Accessed 29 Apr. 2021.

Lloyd, T. Abe. Kousa Dogwood. 24 Sept. 2012. Arcadian Abe, arcadianabe.blogspot.com/2012/09/kousa-dogwood-another-urban-wonder.html. Accessed 29 Apr. 2021.

Montreat College. 2 Apr. 2018, www.montreat.edu/2018/04/easter-and-the-dogwood-tree/. Accessed 29 Apr. 2021.

Media and Arts
I wrote this song in honor of the kousa dogwood tree and spring.