Tree Profiles: Kousa Dogwood Cultivars, Part 4 (Cornus Kousa)

This is the fourth and final 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 ‘Temple Jewel’, ‘Var. Chinensis’, ‘Wisley Queen’, and ‘Wolf Eyes’.

‘Temple Jewel’: ‘Temple Jewel’ dogwood, sometimes erroneously called ‘Satomi’ dogwood, is a small tree with uniquely colored blooms and foliage. The tree reaches heights of 12 to 20 feet, with a 12 to 20 foot spread. It has a spreading branching habit, and grows at a medium rate. In early spring, ‘Temple Jewel’ dogwood forms clusters of large white bracts, which may sometimes feature green margins. Variegated lime green and gold leaves appear from late spring to early summer.  ‘Temple Jewel’ is resistant to infection from verticillium wilt.

‘Var. Chinensis’: Var. chinensis dogwood, commonly referred to as Chinese dogwood, is a small, flowering tree or multi-stemmed shrub that grows 15 to 30 feet tall and wide. This variety establishes a vase-like shape when young. It becomes more rounded as it matures. Var. chinensis has several unique characteristics. It forms a profusion of large white flower bracts, which provide an attractive display throughout spring and summer. These are followed by the appearance of deep red fruit in fall. The leaves are large and smooth, with a dark green coloration that brightens to a showy orange-red in autumn.

‘Wisley Queen’: ‘Wisley Queen’ dogwood, also called Szechuan strawberry, is a large shrub. small tree, or creeping perennial that can grow 15 to 25 feet tall, with a 15 to 25 foot spread. It grows at a slow rate. Small, white flower bracts form in clusters from late spring to early summer. The ovate bracts turn pink as they mature. The bracts often linger on ‘Wisley Queen’ until early autumn, when they are followed by an abundance of strawberry-colored fruit. The leaves are dark green when they first expand. They turn shades of red and purple in fall.

‘Wolf Eyes’: ‘Wolf Eyes’ dogwood, also sometimes called Japanese dogwood, is a large shrub or small tree with distinctly variegated foliage. It may reach heights of up to 20 feet, with a 15 to 20 foot spread. It grows at a slow rate. The leaves produced by ‘Wolf Eyes’ are a mixture of green and gray, complemented by brilliant white, wavy margins. By autumn, the leaves turn vibrant shades of pink and red. Star-shaped flower bracts that are colored a brilliant white appear on ‘Wolf Eyes’ in spring. In fall, these are shed, and replaced by a mass of bright red berries. These red berries often attract birds, whom readily devour them.