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Cornus elliptica (or C. angustata) – Empress of China

Cornus elliptica, also known as Cornus kousa angustata, is rarely seen in gardens, yet the flowers that come late in the season are as beautiful as those of any dogwood. Sometimes offered as an evergreen dogwood, it may or may not hold its leaves through winter.

Cornus kousa angustata
Cornus elliptica (Cornus kousa angustata). Rare and beautiful dogwood.

Native to China, this beautiful flowering dogwood was introduced to the United States in 1980 by Dr. Theodore R. Dudley (National Arboretum).

Flowers in late May or early June after the leaves appear. Any leaves that persisted through winter will drop as new growth appears.

Cornus elliptica garden facts:

  1. It is also known as Cornus angustata or Cornus kousa angustata.
  2. It is often sold as an ‘evergreen dogwood’. It is evergreen to semi-evergreen.
  3. This species has exceptional drought tolerance, but winter tolerance is marginal in the colder parts of zone 7.

Cornus elliptica

The leaves are beautiful, glossy, medium-green and vibrant on a tree that reaches 15-20 feet. Dogwoods are the classic understory trees of the Piedmont of the southern United States, and Cornus elliptica fits right in. It has narrower leaves and bracts than Cornus kousa.

Flower bracts start out rounded when young and then take on the pointed form that is associated with Cornus kousa. The flowering bracts of the native Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) are rounded.

Plant type: evergreen to semi-deciduous tree
Height: 15′-20′
Winter hardiness:  7-9 Sometimes offered in zone 6…will need protection. Look to Stellar dogwood in colder zones.
Of note: Taxonomy of this dogwood is muddled. Known as Cornus elliptica, Cornus kousa angustata, and Cornus angustata. Flowers after leafing out. Beautiful, nearly flawless flowers. Semi-evergreen or evergreen. Does not suffer from dogwood anthracnose.

Cornus eliptica, angustata
Flowers do not cover Cornus elliptica as completely as Cornus florida or Cornus kousa but are beautiful when appreciated up close.
evergreen dogwood
Also known as evergreen dogwood.