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Pagoda Dogwood
Plant Spotlight: Pagoda Dogwood
The dogwood family has many useful and attractive species for Midwest landscapes. One of our favorites is the pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia). This North American native is an excellent, multi-season large shrub or small tree.

The common name pagoda dogwood comes from the plant’s unique horizontal branching that give it a layered look, like the multiple tiers of a pagoda. This striking form makes it ideal as a stand alone specimen.

In mid spring, the pagoda dogwood has many clusters of very fragrant white flowers. I love the way the flowers really highlight the strong horizontal lines of this plant. Berry-like fruit matures to an attractive dark blue in late summer. The fruit is borne on pink to red stalks which make an interesting contrast. These fruit are a favorite of birds!

Though not outstanding, the leaves turn a respectable reddish purple in fall. Thanks to its unique branching, I also find this plant attractive in winter.

When planting the pagoda dogwood, consider that it is naturally found as an understory plant in forests and along stream banks. What this tells us is that it has the best performance in cool, moist areas. This plant prefers part-shade but it can also be grown in full sun in our area, so long as the root zone is kept moist and mulched to keep it cool. The pagoda dogwood can also tolerate considerable shade, though flowering may not be as strong.

Finally, keep the mature size of this large shrub or small tree in mind when planting. It usually gets to be about 15-25 feet tall and wide in the residential landscape, but has been known to get quite a bit larger in the wild.

Sited correctly, the pagoda dogwood is an outstanding ornamental native that looks good year-round.


Written by:
Nicole Gear
Horticulturist and Office Manager
scott flanagan landscape
2011 – present

Illustrations: Google image search
Pagoda Dogwood Fruit

Scott Flanagan Landscape    708.460.5884    sfl@scottflanaganlandscape.com