Other common names
Kousa dogwood. Japanese: Yamaboushi
Origin of the species name
Cornus is from Latin for hard and refers to the wood; kousa is said to refer to a Japanese name.
Japanese flowering dogwoods reach mature height in 20 to 25 years.
This is a small deciduous tree with a rounded form. The older bark sheds, revealing a mix of grey-tan and mahogany brown. It has opposite, simple dark-green leaves. The four-petalled white 'flowers' are actually modified leaves spread open below the cluster of inconspicuous yellow-green flowers. The fruit is a pink to red berry. Height 10m Spread 7m.
Natural distribution and habitat
The species is native to Japan, Korea and China where it grows in the understory of moist, fertile conditions in mixed, sparse, and dense woods at elevations of 400 - 2200 metres.
It is not a threatened species in East Asia, however, it has proven to be resistant to 'dogwood anthracnose', which is a fungal disease that has decimated many populations of Cornus species in North America. As such, it may be an important species in terms of the survival of the genus.
While the skin of the fruit is rather tough and unpleasant with a bitter flavour, the pulp inside is edible. The fruits have also been used to make a tea.
The trees are planted in a series of interlocking hexagons. A large central hexagon is marked by a path through the forest.