Cornus controversa
Common Name: giant dogwood 
Type: Tree
Family: Cornaceae
Native Range: Japan, China, Himalayas
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 35.00 to 40.00 feet
Spread: 35.00 to 40.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Deer


Grow in acidic, organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Some afternoon shade is appreciated in hot summer climates such as the St. Louis area. Best performance occurs in cool summer climates. Provide consistent moisture and mulch root zone.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cornus controversa, commonly called giant dogwood, is a rounded, medium-sized, deciduous tree that will grow somewhat rapidly to 35-40’ (less frequently to 60’) tall with distinctive horizontal branching in tiers. This tree and C. alternifolia are the only dogwoods that feature alternate leaves. Small, creamy-white flowers appear in flattened clusters (cymes to 3-7” wide) in late spring (May-June). Although individual flowers are small, a tree in full bloom is quite showy. Flowers give way to clusters of bluish-black fruits (drupes to 1/2”) that mature in late summer. Fruits are attractive to birds. Ovate dark green leaves (3-6” long) are glaucous beneath. Fall color is variable but usually not showy, ranging from at best a respectable red-purple to a more typical pale green and yellow.

Genus name comes from the Latin word cornus meaning "horn", possibly in reference to the strength and density of the wood. Cornus is also the Latin name for cornelian cherry (Cornus mas). May also be related to the Greek kerasos meaning "cherry".


Susceptible to leaf spot, root rot and canker. Scale, leaf miner and borers are occasional insect pests. Unlike C. alternifolia, this species is resistant to twig blight.


Lawn tree.