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Darrell Blackwelder column: Dogwood trees are now loaded with berries

Dogwood trees are well-noted for their seasonal display of showy spring blooms and fall color. However, these trees have a dual purpose of not only providing blooms and fall color but also an interesting display of fruit in the fall. Dogwood trees are now laden with red berries and fruit as a product of earlier spring blooms. There are over 45 types of dogwoods with only a few producing fruits. Shiny, bright red berries are now hanging in clusters on native dogwoods and often stay after leaf drop until early December. Most species of dogwood flowers must have insects for pollination and their fruit is always a favorite food of birds, squirrels and other animals. The newly introduced kousa dogwood from the Orient produces an unusual marble-sized fruit. The globular green fruit turns pink during late summer and in September, evolves into a dull red color resembling a large upright raspberry. Fruits of both native and kousa dogwoods are devoured by squirrels and birds. However, another interesting aspect of the kousa dogwood is that the fruit is edible.  Some say the taste resembles that of a pawpaw or persimmon while others contend the fruit tastes like pumpkin. The ripened fruit is often turned into jellies or jams, or can be added to your daily smoothie.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu .

Kousa dogwood fruit ripening on tree limbs.

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