Kousa dogwoods, sometimes called Japanese flowering dogwoods, enhance Brandon Oaks' May and June landscape with crowns of star-shaped milky white "flowers." Their presence makes an evening walk a visual pleasaure. Mature trees blend with maple and holly trees on the north-facing slope between the cottages and the B3 entrance, the one with the brick-red awning; smaller trees grow in beds next to the B3 awning and a young tree is near the main entrance at the Old Zion replica near our main entrance.
What appear as showy flower petals are really four pointed bracts – modified leaves – that surround compact clusters of small yellow-green flowers. These flower structures emerge in May shortly after leaves appear, but bracts peak in beauty during June, and gradually pink-up as they age and drop.
Watch the Kousa dogwoods during autumn and winter. Fall leaf-colors are vivid reds, yellows, and purples. Pink-red to deep red globose fruits, ½" to 1" diameter and resembling raspberries, appear in late August through October. They hang on trees long enough to resemble decorations on a Christmas tree. Our winter resident birds may dig seeds out of the fleshy fruit once it ages.
The bark on the upright Kousa tree is especially noticeable in winter with its attractive irregular patches of gray, brown, tan, and olive-green. Horizontally arranged slender stems stand out against snow, as do the flower and leaf buds. It is easy to tell the two apart since flower buds are longer and larger than the leaf buds.
The main advantage Kousa dogwoods have over their native American cousins, the flowering dogwoods, is resistance to the fungus that causes dogwood anthracnose. This disease, introduced into the United States from unknown sources in the mid-1970s, infects, weakens and kills a great many of native dogwoods in U. S. forests and landscape plantings.