Darrell Blackwelder: Kousa dogwood fruit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 9, 2023

Dogwood trees are well noted for their seasonal display of showy spring blooms and fall leaf 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 and often stay after leaf drop until early December. Most species of dogwood flowers must have insects for pollination. Their fruit is continued staple each fall for 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 tree types are devoured by squirrels and birds. However, another interesting aspect of the kousa dogwood is that the fruit is edible. The fruit can be eaten fresh, and also altered into dressings, sauces and even wine. Some say the wine has a taste that 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 smoothy. Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/cornus-kousa/ for detailed information about kousa dogwoods.

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 .