Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
When it comes to the fruits of fall, the dogwoods aren’t likely to be the first ones that come to mind, which is a pity. Among this group is the kousa dogwood, which is a good choice for fall floral designs.
Now that the native white-flowering dogwood is suffering serious disease problems, the resistant kousa has become more popular. The kousa bears most unusual fruits for a dogwood. They’re too attractive to not use in fall floral displays.
Like other dogwood fruits, those of the kousa ripen in bunches. But, that’s where the similarity ends. Kousa fruits are pebbled with an uneven texture, and resemble strawberries in many ways. They ripen to a rich wine red, beginning in August. They have a flattened shape. What floral designers appreciate is that these fruits will last for several months.
Much grown in China and Japan, kousa fruits are known as yamaboshi or yang-mei.
Given a sunny spot, in acid, well-drained soil, the kousa is a carefree plant. It requires little attention, and has proven to be tolerant of drought. This is winter hardy to zone five. The plant is unbothered by the anthracnose and powdery mildew that presently affect the native dogwoods. Kousa has few if any insect or disease problems, which will please floral designers.
Also called Japanese dogwood, this elegant tree blooms much later in the spring than other dogwoods. Yet, its fruits ripen at about the same time.
The tree grows to about 18 to 20 feet in height. Under very good growing conditions, it has reached 30 feet. The cultivars can vary in size.
Native to Korea and Japan, there are various cultivars of the kousa available. Big Apple kousa will be of special interest to floral designers since it bears very large, vivid red fruits. This cultivar grows to about 15 feet in height. For the same reason, Milky Way kousa is an excellent choice. It yields large numbers of colorful fruits.
Other cultivars include Gold Star, and Snowboy, both of which have variegated foliage. There is also Flushing Pink, Fireworks, Heart Throb, and Galilean.