Tree Profiles: Kousa Dogwood Cultivars, Part 3 (Cornus Kousa)

This is the third part of a series on Kousa dogwood cultivars.


Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), also referred to as Benthamia kousa, Cynoxylon kousa, Chinese dogwood, Kousa, Korean dogwood, and Japanese dogwood is a popular ornamental tree or shrub that is commonly selected for planting in various settings. Over time, many varieties of Kousa dogwood have been introduced, with each one exhibiting characteristic traits. The following describes some of the most unique Kousa dogwood cultivars, including ‘Snowboy’, ‘Summer Fun’, ‘Summer Gold’, and ‘Summer Stars’.

‘Snowboy’: ‘Snowboy’ dogwood is a compact, variegated cultivar that is renown for its distinctly colored foliage. It is a small tree that can grow 6 to 9 feet in height and width. It establishes a horizontal branching habit. The branches develop dark green leaves, with creamy white fringes that turn resplendent shades of pink to red in fall. ‘Snowboy’ produces small white flowers in spring. This cultivar is especially susceptible to bark scorching, and winter desiccation.

‘Summer Fun’: ‘Summer Fun’ dogwood is a small tree that is celebrated for its striking variegated foliage. The foliage is initially a grey-green color, with pinkish-white margins. By fall, the leaves turn reddish-orange, with pink margins. In late spring, ‘Summer Fun’ dogwood produces large star-shaped white flowers, which persist throughout the summer months. By fall, the flowers are replaced by attractive red berries. The berries are often sought after and consumed by birds. ‘Summer Fun’ reaches heights of 8 to 10 feet, with a 4 to 5 foot spread.

‘Summer Gold’: ‘Summer Gold’ dogwood is a small, elegant tree, with a distinctly upright growth habit, that can grow up to 8 feet tall, and 4 feet wide. It develops at a medium growth rate. In early spring, ‘Summer Gold’ forms a bevy of creamy flower-like bracts, which provide an attractive display. The bracts remain on the tree until summer. ‘Summer Gold’ produces vibrant foliage that is initially yellow and green, before turning a brilliant shade of red in fall. ‘Summer Gold’ can be grown in a large container. Its stature also makes it ideal for planting in small gardens.

‘Summer Stars’: ‘Summer Stars’ dogwood is a medium-sized tree that grows 20 to 25 feet tall, with a 15 to 20 foot spread. This cultivar establishes a vase-like shape, and features horizontally-tiered branches. The branches generally form a low canopy. In spring, ‘Summer Stars’ becomes laden with white flower-like bracts. The bracts linger on the tree for much of the summer, before being cast, and replaced by an abundance of crimson berries, which appear from early to mid fall. This cultivar forms pointed leaves, which are green throughout the spring and summer months. By fall, the leaves turn a brick red. Like many of its counterparts, ‘Summer Stars’ has gray bark that becomes mottled with age. ‘Summer Stars’ is susceptible to chlorosis when planted in alkaline soils.

Photo courtesy of Plant Image Library CC-by-2.0