Friday, September 11, 2015
Answer: A Kousa Dogwood
After several helpful inquiries, we discovered that our mystery dogwood, which I was even considering to not be a dogwood, is indeed one in this beautiful family of trees. Meet our kousa dogwood.
According to online research, kousa dogwoods are either Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. I still don't know the country of origin from which my kousa dogwood had its beginnings, but it is dogwood.
The interesting orbs dotted with tiny spikes? Multiple sources say they are edible and taste slightly like strawberries.
Experiment: pick a bright red pod
Results: bright red pods are very ripe and mushy. I squished one open to find orange sherbet colored pulp, which looked slimy. While it smelled yummy, I am not convinced I can eat it. Birds are supposed to love them. I think the birds in my neighborhood do not know this. Maybe only birds in Japan or China or Korea have the inside track on kousa dogwood fruit.
All in all, it was a good day learning more about my tree.
Fast growing, check. Most dogwoods grow very slowly, but this is easily nearing 10 feet in height and we've had it for about 5 years, beginning with a less than 1-foot tall stick. STICK in the truest sense of the word. Red fruit pods, check. White 4-petal flowers, check. Blooms later than other dogwoods, check.
"Cornus kousa," or Japanese strawberry tree, produces edible tree fruit, grows to 20-30 feet in height, and is an ornamental garden tree. Not only that, this variety has few illnesses or pests that invade its trunk, leaves, or fruit.
Friends, I think we have a winner. I'm happy to know that my kousa dogwood is doing just fine and will for years to come.