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Botanical Name: Cornus alternifolia

Common Name: Pagoda Dogwood
Origin: E. North America
Location: CNE

Notable Feature: Although the leaves of most species of dogwood are oppositely arranged on the branches, those of Pagoda Dogwood are alternate, hence the specific epithet, alternifolia.  

Habit: A small, deciduous tree or large, multi-stemmed shrub that typically grows 15 to 25 feet tall and 20 to 35 feet wide with distinctive tiered/layered, horizontal branching with upward-turned tips. Develops a flat-topped crown.

Flower: Small, extremely fragrant, yellowish white flowers bloom in flattened cymes (each to 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches across) in late May into June. Flowers are perfect (bisexual).  

Fruit: Greenish red drupes borne in clusters. Each drupe, 3/8 inch in diameter, ripens to bluish black in late summer; borne on fruit stalks that turn a reddish green.

Foliage: Alternate, 3 to 5-inch long, dark green leaves are crowded near the end of the twigs and appear to be whorled or even opposite; turns a red-purple in fall.

Bark: Smooth, dark green, and streaky; eventually ages light brown and develops shallow fissures.

Interesting Fact: While this tree is native to North America it is often used in Japanese style gardens because of its beautiful horizontal branching.  Pagoda Dogwood gets its name from this horizontal branching making it look like a pagoda. The white spring blossoms attract butterflies and it is a host plant for Spring Azure butterflies. Water and songbirds, grouse, pheasants, wild turkeys, squirrels and a host of other wildlife relish the late summer berries.

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