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Kew's North American dogwoods swathed in spring colour

At the north end of Museum No.1, another wonderful tree is in flower.

Cornus nuttallii x florida

Cornus nuttallii x florida is one of many flowering dogwoods from North America and is a hybrid of the ‘Pacific Dogwood’ (Cornus nuttallii) from the West Coast and the 'Eastern Dogwood' (Cornus florida), from the East.

Cornus florida, the state flower of North Carolina, comes from the forests of the eastern United States where it thrives under the canopy of larger trees in the shady, moist and nutrient-rich environment. However, gardeners fell in love with its beautiful flowers and stunning autumn colour, and began to use the tree in more urban settings. Cornus nuttallii comes from the lowlands of southern British Columbia to the mountains of southern California and is named after Thomas Nuttall, an English botanist and zoologist who worked in the Americas in the nineteenth century. The spring flowering of the dogwoods has become an eagerly anticipated event celebrated throughout North America.

Borne in May, the small flowers are surrounded by large, white modified leaves known as bracts, and at this time of year the tree is swathed in white. The tree also displays beautiful autumn colour, the leaves turning rich red and yellow before they drop.

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