Common Name: tatarian dogwood
Type: Deciduous shrub
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Yellowish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Suggested Use: Hedge, Rain Garden
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Erosion
Best grown in organically rich, consistently moist, fertile, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils. Established shrubs tolerate some dry soils as well as occasional standing water. Trim roots with a spade and promptly remove root suckers if colonial spread is undesired. Best stem color occurs on young stems. Although pruning is not required, many gardeners choose to remove 20-25% of the oldest stems in early spring of each year to stimulate growth of new stems which will display the best color. As an alternative to annual pruning, some gardeners prune all stems close to the ground (coppice to 8") in early spring every 2-3 years to renew. Any loss of flowers through spring pruning is not terribly significant since the small flowers of this dogwood are small and rather ordinary. Plants become stressed and more vulnerable to diseases such as canker in hot summer climates south of USDA Zone 7.
Cornus alba, commonly called Tatarian dogwood, is a rapid-growing, multi-stemmed, suckering, deciduous shrub that is native to eastern and central Asia in areas in part inhabited by Tatars or Tartars. It typically matures to 8-10' tall. Creamy white flowers in flat-topped clusters (cymes to 2 1/2" across) bloom in late spring, sometimes with sparse, intermittent, additional flowering continuing into early summer. Flowers give way to white berries (drupes tinged with blue-green) which ripen in mid-summer. Fruits are attractive to birds. Ovate to elliptic leaves (to 4 1/2" long) are bright yellow in full sun but greenish yellow in part shade.
Tatarian dogwood is similar in appearance to redtwig dogwood (C. sericea/stolonifera), but generally does not spread as aggressively.
Genus name comes from the Latin word cornu meaning horn in probable reference to the strength and density of the wood. Cornus is also the Latin name for cornelian cherry.
Specific epithet means white.
'Gouchaultii' is a tatarian dogwood cultivar that is noted for its variegated (yellow and pink margins) leaves and its bright red twigs in winter. It is a rapid-growing, multi-stemmed, suckering, deciduous shrub that grows to a maximum size of 4-6' tall on erect, usually unbranched stems. The outstanding ornamental features of this cultivar are: (1) bright red winter stems which are particularly showy against a snowy backdrop and (2) ovate to elliptic, medium/dark green leaves (to 4.5" long) which are edged with yellow and pink. Tiny, yellowish-white flowers appear in flat-topped clusters (to 2.5" diameter) in late spring, with sparse, intermittent, additional flowering sometimes continuing into summer. Flowers give way to clusters of blue-white drupes in summer. Fruit is quite attractive to birds and is generally considered to have as much if not more ornamental interest than the flowers. Fall color is variable, but foliage may turn attractive shades of purple-red. 'Gouchaultii' is very similar to and often confused with C. a. 'Spaethii' which has yellow leaf margins. Tatarian dogwood is very similar to redtwig dogwood (C. sericea/stolonifera), but generally does not spread as aggressively.
Susceptible to leaf spot, twig and leaf blights and canker. Scale, leaf miner and borers are occasional insect pests.
Best in groups or massed. Naturalistic plantings in moist soils where plants are allowed to spread and form thickets. Property line screens. Hedges. Shrub borders. Site shrubs as accents in areas where key ornamental feature, the stem color, can be appreciated. For an interesting bicolor winter stem display, combine with a contrasting stem color.
Combine with yellowtwig dogwoods (e.g., Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea').