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Cornus nuttallii

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About Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) The Pacific Dogwood is a species of dogwood native to western North America from lowlands of southern British Columbia to mountains of southern California. An inland population occurs in central Idaho. Cultivated examples are found as far north as the Queen Charlotte Islands. It is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree, reaching 7-20 meters tall, often with multiple trunks and and an irregular form. The leaves are opposite, simple oval, 8-12 centimeters long and 5-8 centimeters broad. The flowers are individually small and inconspicuous, 2-3 millimeters across, produced in a dense, rounded, greenish-white flowerhead 2 centimeter diameters; the 4-8 large white "petals" are actually leafs, each leaf is 4-7 centimeters long and broad. The fruit is a compound pink-red berry about 3 centimeters in diameter, containing 50-100 small seeds; it is edible, though not very palatable.

With its spectacular white flowers, bright green leaves, beautiful autumn foliage, and attractive growth form, Pacific Dogwoods are among the more popular native California trees in landscaping applications. It's long-lived and easy to grow as long as it's planted in its natural range and in the right site type. It needs to be planted in cool, rich, deep and well draining soil, in part shade, preferably among smaller companion plants, so as it matures it can reach its branches out into direct sun. Provide occasional summer water until established, then stop all supplementary irrigation. Avoid disturbing the soil within a few feet of the trunk.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
12 - 65.6 ft (3.7 - 20 m)

Max. Width
6 - 30 ft (1.8 - 9.1 m)


Growth Rate

Winter Deciduous

Flower Color
Green, White

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Cool party-shady areas, with deep, rich, well-draining soil, usually at the edge of forests.

Shade, Part Shade

Elevation ?
30' - 10807'

Annual Precip. ?
12.1" - 152.2"

Summer Precip. ?
0.19" - 5.84"

Coldest Month ?
25.5° F - 53.8° F

Hottest Month ?
47.2° F - 79.3° F

Humidity ?
0.10 vpd - 26.55 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers soils that is cool, moist, deep, well-drained and high in organic matter.

Soil Texture
Loam, Loamy Sand, Sandy Loam, Silt Loam

Soil PH
4 - 7


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -5 - 20° F

Sunset Zones ?
1, 2, 4*, 5*, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23

Wildlife Attracted
Birds, particularly band-tailed pigeons. In wild areas, bear and beaver eat the fruit.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Deep Organic

Prune to an open branching pattern to reduce risk of antrhacnose infection.

Pest Control
Susceptible to anthracnose. To reduce chance of infection, plant in an areas with good air circulation, and prune to prevent tight branching patterns.

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: 3-4 mos. stratification. Scarification or soaking in concentrated H2S04 1hr. first may improve germination. Fresh seeds may need no pre-treatment (USDA Forest Service 1948).

Common uses
Bird Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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