Cornus nuttalli (Pacific Dogwood)


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Plant Description: A deciduous, multi-branched tree with a rounded crown. The reddish-brown to black bark is smooth becoming scale-like with age. The dark green, oval leaves are tapered at the base, sharp pointed with prominent veins and slightly wavy margins. Leaves turn pinkish-red in autumn. 

Inflorescence is a small, spherical, dense cluster of 30-40 greenish white flowers, subtended by 4-6 white petal-like bracts, appearing to be one large showy flower. Flowers ripen into a tight ball of bright red fruit. Blossoming usually occurs in Spring, occasionally flowering again in early fall due to late summer water stress. Because of its graceful nature, Cornus nuttalli makes a beautiful ornamental plant.

  • Height: 30-50'
  • Width: 10-30'
  • Watering needs: regular
  • Sun needs: full sun to full shade
  • Soil needs: humus rich, moist to wet, well-drained
  • Bloom Time: Between may and June
  • Portland Plant List (Backyard Habitat Certification): Yes

Landscape Use and Ecological Function: A native plant, Pacific dogwood is more common in riparian zones below elevations of 5000 ft from Southern British Columbia south through the west side of the Cascades into Southern California. 

This plant makes an excellent addition to rain and woodland gardens as well as conventional or ornamental gardens. It creates habitat and therefore will attract birds and wildlife. Pacific dogwood has a low frost tolerance, high flood tolerance, and moderate shade tolerance. It is quite drought tolerant.

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