Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Plant Pick of the Month: Cornus elliptica

Taxonomically confusing and undecisive, but I am so enamored by this small tree from China.

We have this stunning specimen growing at the UW Botanic Garden's Center for Urban Horticulture and, each June, I stare in amazement at the glossy evergreen foliage blushed in deep red and bronze with a smattering of star-like bracts that cover almost the entire tree from top to bottom.

Cornus elliptica habit

Cornus elliptica in flower

Cornus elliptica

This tree has been referred to as:

Cornus angustata
Cornus capitata
C. capitata ssp. angustata
C. capitata var. angustata
Cornus kousa v. angustata
C. kousa v. angustifolia
Cornus elliptica
Dendrobenthamia angustata

Potential graduate work to sort all this out? Oh you betcha...

Now, there's a plant in commerce called 'Elsbry' trademarked EMPRESS OF CHINA. that was selected by John Elsley. While I secured a few plants, he's worried that we might not have the heat in the summer to get this plant blooming here in the Puget Sound area, but with our evergreen dogwood at UWBG, perhaps that's the one that we should be propagating and distributing to gardeners here.


  1. So beautiful! The middle picture reminds me of creamy butterflies amassed together, resting on a tree.

    So many latin name choices; is there a common name? Perhaps the Chinese common name, if you can find it, would be applicable?

  2. Well, it's common name is Chinese Evergreen Dogwood and the Flora of China doesn't have a full description of this plant just yet maybe because they're still getting the final details to confirm that this is truly a distinct species.

  3. I found this tree online and it looks great. A bit pricey but I am giving it a try. Gets plenty hot here in TN for it, just a question if it will survive the winter.