Gardening Magazine

Cornus Controversa ‘Variegata’

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Cornus controversa 'variegata' (18/07/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Cornus controversa ‘variegata’ (18/07/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to light shade

Flowering period: Late spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 8m

Eventual Spread: 8m

Hardiness: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a

Family: Cornaceae

Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ is a slow growing deciduous small tree or large shrub with a tiered, spreading habit. Its glossy mid green/ gray green/ cream leaves are elliptic with wavy entire margins, up to 13cm long and 9cm broad. Its leaves may turn yellow in autumn before they fall. Its bark is dark gray to yellow gray. Its branches form a distinctive tiered branch structure. Its fragrant white flowers are up to 8mm across, appear as cymes with red stems and are up to 14cm across. Its round fruit is a blue/ black berry and up to 7mm across.

Cornus controversa 'variegata' Leaf (18/07/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Cornus controversa ‘variegata’ Leaf (18/07/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

The species Cornus controversa, commonly known as Wedding Cake Tree or Giant Dogwood, is native to most of China and Japan. In its native habitat it grows in mixed forest.

The etymological root of the binomial Cornus is from the Latin cornum meaning ‘horn’ due to its dense properties. Controversa is derived from the Latin controversum meaning ‘controversial’.

The landscape architect may find Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ useful as a small attractive flowering tree.

Cornus controversa 'variegata' Bark (18/07/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Cornus controversa ‘variegata’ Bark (18/07/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Ecologically, Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ flowers are attractive to pollinating insects. Its fruit are attractive to birds and some mammals.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ prefers moist, humus rich, well-drained soils. It prefers a neutral to acid pH of soil.

Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ requires little maintenance.

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