One of the most anticipated signs of spring in Portland is our flowering trees. In April, flowering Cherry and Plum trees conclude their reign, making way for our magnificent Dogwoods. In Portland, white and pink flowers dot the city, insisting that spring rain gives up and makes room for sunshine.

Dogwood Trees

Cornus alternifolia, photo courtesy Oregon State University

Cornus alternifolia: Pagoda Dogwood

Small tree that grows with a tiered habit like a pagoda. Small creamy white flowers in flat clusters bloom in June. Foliage is green and fall color is red to purple. Fruit is blue-black. Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentea’ is a variegated form with white and green leaves that is rare in cultivation. Grows to 15-20’ tall x 15-20’ wide. Likes sun to partial shade. Hardy Z3

Cornus controversa Giant Dogwood

Cornus controversa: Giant Dogwood

One of the largest-growing species. Creamy white flowers in clusters bloom in June. Leaves are green with purple fall color. Fruit starts out red and turns black in late summer. Grows fast to 35-45’ tall with horizontal branching habit. Likes sun, part shade & moist soil. Hardy Z5

Cornus florida 'Rubra'

Cornus florida: Eastern Dogwood

Native to eastern US. The most commonly known Dogwood, Cornus florida: has many cultivated varieties. True flowers are small and greenish yellow, surrounded by white or pink bracts which function as flowers. Many cultivars are available.

The pink Dogwoods that bloom around Portland in May are mostly Cornus florida: ‘Rubra’. Several cultivars are available that have variegated leaves, adding a decorative aspect to the tree during summer months when flowering is over. Grows slowly to 15-20’ tall with a traditional round shape. Grows best with morning sun and afternoon shade – check cultural requirements.

Cornus florida: is susceptible to anthracnose and other diseases that effect Dogwoods. Please check disease information available on this page. Hardy Z6

Cornus Stellar

Cornus florida x Cornus kousa: Stellar series Dogwoods

Bred for excellent flowering of C. florida and disease resistance of C. kousa. White and pink forms are available.

Cornus nutalii 'Eddie's White Wonder'

Cornus florida x Cornus nuttallii 'Eddie's White Wonder': Eddie’s White Wonder Dogwood

White flowers and very vigorous upright habit. Green leaves turn orange-red in fall, and small red fruits develop as well.

Grows 35' X 20'. Best in partial shade, Hardy Z7.

Cornus kousa

Cornus kousa: Korean/Chinese Dogwood

True flowers are small & yellow with showy bracts similar to Cornus florida: but smaller. Flowers bloom in June, after leaves have grown in. Large round fruit is strawberry red and very decorative amongst the red and purple leaves of autumn. Grows slowly to 15-20’. Shape is vase-like in youth, broadening to a multi-level tiered shape when mature. Hardy Z5.

Cornus kousa  is very resistant to many of the diseases effecting Dogwood trees that are native to the US. For that reason it has become the Dogwood of choice for many Portland gardeners.

Cornus kousa x Cornus nuttallii

A group of hybrids that retain the disease resistance of Cornus kousa, with flowering and growth qualities that reflect both parents. 'Starlight' and 'Venus' are two cultivars that are readily available.

Cornus kousa x Cornus nuttallii ‘Starlight’

Large white flowers appear before leaves emerge and resemble Cornus nuttallii. 'Starlight grows in an upright oval shape.

Grows 30’ x 20-25'. Sun, part shade, Hardy Z6

Cornus kousa x Cornus nuttallii ‘Venus’

White flowers in April-May with clean glossy leaves and shrubby habit similar to Cornus kousa.

 Grows to 15’ x 20’, Z6

Cornus 'Venus'

Cornus mas: Cornelian Cherry

Small yellow flowers in late winter before leaves emerge. Leaves are green. The common name comes from the edible fruit that resembles cherries. Bark is rough and interesting texture. Grows to 20-25’ tall, 15’ wide. Best in full sun. Hardy Z4

Cornus nuttallii: Pacific Dogwood

Our native Dogwood tree that blooms with brilliant white flowers in April-May, and often surprises with a second bloom in autumn! Cornus nuttallii is notorious for being difficult to grow in captivity, so it is very hard to find in nurseries. Portland Nursery is able to supply a few small sizes, plus several named cultivars that have been easier for growers to work with.

Cornus nuttalii 'Colrigo Giant'

Cornus nuttallii 'Colrigo Giant'

Found growing near the bridge of the gods in the gorge. It has very large flowers up to 7” across, extra all-around vigor and larger mature size, 45’.
‘Gold Spot’ has white flowers and green leaves with yellow spots.
Leaves are green. Fruit is small & red. Grows fast, to 30-40’ tall with an upright oval shape. Best in partial shade. Hardy Z7.