Flowering dogwood shrubs and trees (Cornus) are members of a genus that feature about sixty-five species, all indigenous to the northern hemisphere. Many are distinguished by showy flower heads, flowers or bracts. Big or small, the flowers always have four petals. Popular varieties, like common flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 5 through 8, bear reddish autumn fruits. Some varieties, however, feature drop fruits that are red when immature and turn blue-black or dark as they age.
Dogwood fruits can be either red, blue-black or white at maturity. All these are classified as “drupes,” meaning the actual seed is enclosed in a stony wall, which is in turn enclosed with a fleshy exterior layer. Trees and shrubs in the genus often have round or oblong fall fruits, however Kousa dogwoods (Cornus kousa), hardy in zones 8 and 7, bear fruits that look like strawberries. Dogwood fruits are attractive and edible to birds and small animals. Some species’ fruits may cause mild gastric distress in humans.
White-flowered black-fruit dogwood (Cornus sessilis) is hardy in zones 7 through 10 and bears red fruit which ages to black in the autumn. It is a multistemmed shrub that grows to 15 feet tall. Growing from 6 to 12 feet tall, with an equal spread, silky dogwood (Cornus amomum) is a deciduous shrub bearing clusters of small white flowers and fruit which ages to dark. It is hardy in zones 5 through 8.
Hardy in zones 6 through 8 or 9, Cornus controversa bears clusters of small, star-shaped blooms, rather than the bigger blossoms of more common varieties. It is a spreading tree which rises to 45 feet tall and bears fruits which era from red to black in the autumn. Big-leaf dogwood (Cornus macrophylla) appears much like Cornus controversa, with fragrant clusters of white flowers. It is hardy in zones 6 through 9 and rises up to 30 feet tall.
Generally, the dogwood species using the showiest flowers, like common dogwood (Cornus florida) and Oriental dogwood (Cornus kousa) bear red fruit that does not era to black. Cluster-flowered varieties are more inclined to have fruits which darken as they ripen in the fall. The combination of appealing flowers, excellent fall color in several varieties and species, brightly colored fresh growth in some species and showy autumn fruits make dogwood species great choices for woodland gardens, ponds gardens and designs where landscape elements must remain fascinating in three or maybe four seasons.