Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)
The Pagoda Dogwood is native to much of the upper midwest where it is found as an understory plant in wooded areas. As with many native plants it has a number of common names throughout its territory including Blue Pagoda, Green Osier, and Umbrella Dogwood. The Pagoda Dogwood is an excellent small tree or large shrub that can be grown either as a single or multi-trunked specimen. Its form is oval to round but it has a unique horizontally layered branching structure which accounts for its common name; it looks something like a pagoda. The plant form adds a great deal of interest to the winter landscape. The twigs have smooth, purplish-green bark that has a distinct, bitter taste, adding another common name Pigeon Berry. In winter the tree’s glossy, purple-brown bark adds interest to the landscape. Pagoda Dogwood grows slowly at first but speeds up a bit with age. The Pagoda likes full sun to half shade and a moderate amount of water. It will tolerate a range of soil types, however it does not tolerate hot dry sites.
Unlike the other dogwoods, the leaves and buds are arranged in an alternate pattern. Leaves have parallel veins and are 2 1/2—5 inches long. Usually, the leaves are crowded at the end of twigs. The fall color is deep red to maroon.
The Pagoda flowers are white, small, in 3 to 4 inch flat clusters. They open in May or June, covering the whole tree with a splendid show. Fruit is a bluish-black drupe that ripens in August adding considerable color in late summer as they mature. The fruit are readily eaten by birds.
Pagoda Dogwood Choices
Argentea has leaves with white variegation.