Darrell Blackwelder column: Yellow twig dogwood and banana shrub

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 7, 2022

COVID has produced a plethora of flowers including azaleas, dogwood and others blooming this spring. There are a couple of spring flowering shrubs that you may rarely find in landscapes. One flower of interest is the flower of the yellow twig dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea”). It’s very different from our native flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) normally found in landscapes and wooded areas throughout Rowan County. However, these two very different types of trees are related. Yellow twig dogwood is more of a deciduous bush that has a rapid growth rate preferring sun to light shade. The shrub also requires moist, but well-drained soils, reaching a height of nearly 6 feet. It has somewhat dull, white blooms in the spring similar to a viburnum and reveals it trademark canary yellow stems in winter. For more information, go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/cornus-sericea-flaviramea/

The other interesting bloom is the flower of the banana shrub (Magnolia figo) also known as: Michelia figo. The flower from this shrub is not known as much for its bloom shape or color, but its fragrance. The blooms have the very unique smell of bananas. You can walk by the shrub without seeing the small flowers and smell the aroma of a banana milkshake. The shrub itself does not resemble a common magnolia, but looks like a camellia japonica. There is a banana shrub in full bloom now at the Cooperative Extension Office on Old Concord Road. The shrubs generally do not grow well in our locations. These grow best in zone 8. For more detailed information go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/magnolia-figo/.

 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.