Tree Profiles: Flowering Dogwood Cultivars, Part 1
This is the first half of a two part series on flowering dogwood cultivars.
Flowering dogwood is one of the most frequently cultivated trees in the United States. More than one hundred cultivars are recognized by federal authorities, and several dozen are available for commercial use. The following examines some of the most notable varieties, and the traits that are characteristic of each, including ‘Amerika Touch-Pink’, ‘Appalachian Spring’, ‘Autumn Gold’, ‘Barton’, ‘Cherokee Brave’, ‘Cherokee Chief’, ‘Cherokee Daybreak’, ‘Cherokee Princess’, ‘Cherokee Sunset’, and ‘Gulf Coast Pink’.
‘Amerika Touch-O-Pink’: ‘Amerika Touch-O-Pink’ is a small cultivar with a height and width of 15 to 20 feet. Pale pink or white blooms surrounded by large white bracts emerge from late spring to early summer. In spring, large green leaves appear, turning dark red by late summer. This cultivar is notable for its resistance to many of the diseases that plague the parent species.
‘Appalachian Spring’: ‘Appalachian Spring’ is a fast growing cultivar that grows 15 to 20 feet in height and width. It was developed by the University of Tennessee’s Dogwood Breeding Program. In early spring, clusters of yellow flowers surrounded by large white bracts bloom. Apple green foliage emerges in spring before turning shades of red and purple in fall. One of the most distinct features of ‘Appalachian Spring’ is its bright red fruit, which is larger than that of the parent species. It is also recognized as being one of the hardier cultivars, exhibiting a strong resistance to dogwood anthracnose, one of the most lethal diseases of flowering dogwood.
‘Autumn Gold’: ‘Autumn Gold’ is a popular selection of flowering dogwood. Under ideal conditions, it may reach a height and spread of 15 to 25 feet. ‘Autumn Gold’ features creamy-white flowering bracts that emerge in mid to late spring. Glossy crimson red fruit appear in fall. ‘Autumn Gold’ has two unique characteristics: its lush green foliage that turns golden-yellow in fall, and its vibrant twigs that range from yellow to orange in winter.
‘Barton’: ‘Barton’ is a small cultivar with a horizontal to upright branching habit. It reaches a height and width of 15 to 20 feet. Large white to pink flowers bloom in mid to late spring. Leaves are distinctly oval, and vertically curved. Vibrant green foliage turns red to burgundy in fall. Red berries appear in late fall or early winter, as the leaves drop.
‘Cherokee Brave’: ‘Cherokee Brave’ is a small ornamental tree that reaches a height of 15 to 30 feet, with a 25 to 35 foot spread. ‘Cherokee Brave’ features striking gray bark, and large red flowers, with deep red bracts that fade to white in the center. Foliage is burgundy in spring, turning a lush green during summer before brightening to maroon in fall. As the leaves drop in late fall or early winter, vibrant red berries appear in their place. ‘Cherokee Brave’ is a hardy cultivar, exhibiting strong resistance to drought, as well as many insects and diseases, particularly powdery mildew.
‘Cherokee Chief’: ‘Cherokee Chief’ is a small cultivar that reaches a height of 15 to 20 feet, with a 20 to 25 foot spread. This cultivar is notable for its pink flowers that are surrounded by deep rose red bracts. Flowers emerge in mid to late spring. New leaves are tinged bronze to red, maturing to green in summer. By fall, they turn a resplendent burgundy red. As the leaves drop, scores of red fruit appear, clinging to the bare branches.
‘Cherokee Daybreak’: Cherokee Daybreak’ is a small ornamental tree that grows between 15 and 30 feet in height and width. This cultivar features white flowers, with white bracts that emerge in mid to late fall. It is most notable for the variegation of its leaves, which are olive green, with yellow-white margins. Leaves turn a deep scarlet in fall. ‘Cherokee Daybreak’ exhibits greater resistance to dogwood anthracnose than most other variegated leafed dogwoods.
‘Cherokee Princess’: ‘Cherokee Princess’ is a small cultivar with a horizontal branching habit. It grows at a slow rate, reaching 15 to 30 feet in height, with a 20 to 35 foot spread. This cultivar is notable for its early, and heavy bloom of showy white flowers, which are enveloped by large white bracts. Foliage emerges burgundy in spring, before maturing to forest green. Leaves turn deep shades of red in fall. ‘Cherokee Princess’ produces red berries from early to late fall. The berries contrast well with the tree’s gray bark.
‘Cherokee Sunset’: ‘Cherokee Sunset’ is a small variegated dogwood that grows at a slow rate, reaching up to 20 to 25 feet in height, with a 15 to 20 foot spread. It is the only variegated dogwood to feature red flowers. Flowers emerge in spring, surrounded by red bracts that fade to white in the center. Pink-tipped leaves become yellow and green as they mature. Leaves display shades of pink, red and purple in fall.
‘Gulf Coast Pink’: ‘Gulf Coast Pink’ is a selection of flowering dogwood that is most suitable to warm climates. It is a small ornamental tree with an elegant branching habit that spreads outward. ‘Gulf Coast Pink’ is one of the larger selections, reaching 20 to 40 feet in height, with a 25 to 35 foot spread. In mid-spring, gorgeous pink flowers blossom, composed of four overlapping pink bracts. Leaves are medium green, turning brownish-red in fall. ‘Gulf Coast Pink’ produces bright red fruits that resemble berries, and are consumed by birds.