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'Wolf Eyes' Kousa Dogwood

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Wolf Eyes dogwood picture. Wolf Eyes is a Chinese dogwood tree.

Wolf Eyes picture. Wolf Eyes is a Chinese dogwood tree. Click the picture to access the mini-photo gallery.

David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy of Kousa Dogwood:

Plant taxonomy classifies kousa dogwood (also called "Chinese dogwood," "Japanese dogwood") as Cornus kousa. The cultivar with which I deal here specifically is 'Wolf Eyes.'

Plant Type:

Chinese dogwoods are broadleaf, flowering, deciduous trees.

Characteristics of Kousa Dogwood:

Wolf Eyes Cornus kousa flowers in late spring to early summer, for a period as long as 6 weeks. The credit for the white "floral" show, though, goes not to the actual flowers, but rather to "bracts" (which, to the observer not thinking in botanical terms, look like petals). The berry that succeeds flowering is raspberry-like in appearance. Foliage is variegated. In autumn, the leaves develop streaks ranging in color from pink to red. The form is spreading, with multiple branches; at maturity, Wolf Eyes reaches 10 feet in height with a slightly greater spread. Older trees often develop mottled bark.

Planting Zones:

As you would expect with a nickname like "Chinese dogwoods," Cornus kousa is indigenous to the Far East. 'Wolf Eyes' Cornus kousa can be grown in planting zones 5-8.

Sun and Soil Requirements:

Plant Cornus kousa in partial shade and in a well-drained, acidic soil.

Uses in Landscaping:

Like other types of Cornus kousa, Wolf Eyes blooms later in the spring than does flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) -- an important factor to consider if you're trying to stagger bloom periods in your landscaping so as to improve year round interest (this is a 4-season tree). Since it stays short, use Wolf Eyes Cornus kousa as the understory element in a loose privacy screen of trees and shrubs on a border. Its variegated leaves also make this Chinese dogwood a legitimate specimen tree. A slow growing tree that stays compact, Wolf Eyes Cornus kousa is a better choice than most trees for planting in foundation beds.

Care for Kousa Dogwood:

Provide Wolf Eyes Cornus kousa with sufficient water during hot spells. While its leaf margins are supposed to be wavy, the leaves on my own tree curled excessively during their second summer -- due, I suspect, to insufficient water. In cases of extreme drought, kousa dogwood leaves will turn brown along their margins. But Cornus kousa is reputedly more disease resistant and more tolerant of alkaline soil than Cornus florida.

Wildlife Attracted to Kousa Dogwood:

Chinese dogwoods are good trees for attracting birds, as wild birds will eat the berries of Cornus kousa. Birds are one thing, Bambi is another. Fortunately, these plants are deer-resistant trees.

Outstanding Characteristic of Cornus Kousa 'Wolf Eyes':

Combined with the variegated foliage (white margin, light green interior) of Wolf Eyes Cornus kousa, the white bracts produce a dazzling display; I call it the "blizzard effect."

More on Chinese Dogwood Trees:

While Wolf Eyes Cornus kousa will stand only 10 feet tall at maturity, other Chinese dogwood trees may reach 30 feet in height when mature.

If you wish to learn about other types of Cornus, see my main article on the subject: Dogwoods

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