Samaritan Kousa DogwoodCornus kousa var. chinensis ‘Samzam’
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Cornus kousa var. chinensis ‘Samzam’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Samaritan Kousa Dogwood is a smaller deciduous tree growing 15 to 25 feet tall and spreading with layered branching to about 20 feet across. Not only does this tree have spectacular white blooms, coming 2 to 3 weeks after the American dogwood, but it has wonderful variegated leaves, edged in pure-white, that turn pink and red in fall. After flowering strawberry-like hanging fruits develop, which are edible. On top of all this, the winter bark is mottled orange, tan and gray. A beautiful tree for a lawn specimen, beside your house or edging a woodland area.
The Samaritan Kousa Dogwood is much less liable to suffer the diseases of the American dogwood, and it is generally easier to grow. This variety is especially vigorous and reliable, more hardy in zone 5 than many others, and less likely to sun-scorch. It prefers moist, well-drained soils that are acidic or neutral, and grows best in areas with summer rain. Pests, diseases and deer are usually not problems, and the little extra care it needs, especially when young, is rewarded 10 times over by its beauty. Pruning is not needed.
The American dogwood is certainly our most beloved native tree. The stunning flower display is unmatched, and these trees are admired – and envied – by gardeners around the world. In recent decades disease has made growing them a whole lot more difficult, which is why more and more gardeners are switching to growing that tree’s Chinese cousin, the kousa dogwood. Blooming later, but just as beautifully, this tree is more vigorous, disease-resistant and reliable, yet it closely resembles our native tree, and will bring just as much joy to your garden. If the idea of plain-green leaves after blooming doesn’t excite you, then the Samaritan Kousa Dogwood is sure to. Not only does it have the wonderful white flowers, these are set against spectacular variegated foliage, with every leaf perfectly edges in white, making a great show from spring to fall. Add in pink and red fall colors and attractive winter bark and you have a year-round beauty to grace any garden.
The Samaritan Kousa Dogwood is a small, spreading deciduous tree reaching 15 to 25 feet in height, with a potential spread of 20 feet. It has a broad, vase-shaped form, with branches reaching out in layers, and multiple main branches. In winter you will love the graceful form of this tree against a cold blue sky, and the striking patterns of soft oranges, tans and grays that develop in the shedding bark – a feature not seen in the American dogwood. The broad oval leaves are 2 to 3 inches long, with a graceful drooping tip. They are bold green, and each one is edged with a broad, irregular band of pure white. On some leaves the green areas can be two-tone, in dark and light shades of green. In fall the leaves color spectacularly, turning deep red edges in pink – amazingly beautiful.
If you know the American dogwood you will see that this kousa dogwood flowers 2 to 3 weeks later. It does a wonderful job of stretching out the ‘dogwood season’ in your garden if you already have – or plant – trees of the American dogwood. Once established flowering is profuse, with each flower about 3 inches across, crowded along the branches, adding warm white to the already striking foliage. The ‘flowers’ of dogwood are actually a small cluster of petal-less parts in the center, the rest of what you see is 4 modified leaves called bracts. It is the bracts which are pure white, and you can see their similarity to the leaves. Especially in cooler areas flowering lasts for several weeks, so you really get to enjoy a long season of them. After the bracts fall that central knob of flowers develops into a strawberry-like fruit that will turn red by late summer. These are edible, and some say they taste like papaya. Even if you don’t eat them they make a pretty effect – before the birds take them.
Flowering dogwood trees are under-story trees – that is, they grow naturally beneath larger deciduous trees in forests. So if you have large trees in your garden, or a wooded area, at the edge or in a clearing in such a place is ideal for this tree. In a more open garden it could be planted as a lawn specimen, or as part of the planting around your house. Be sure to allow at least 10 feet from buildings or fences for the ultimate spread of this tree, which can grow about 12 inches a year when young.
The Samaritan Kousa Dogwood is completely hardy and easy to grow across a lot of the country, from zone 5 to zone 8. It does well both in areas with cooler summers, and in the heat of the southeast, but not so well in the Midwest, where the long summer of dry heat is not favorable.
In most areas the Samaritan Kousa Dogwood will grow well in full sun, but in hot zones a little afternoon shade is ideal. Perhaps an east-facing place edging a wooded area, or a lawn area shaded by large trees in the afternoon. Prepare the soil with plenty of rich organic material – compost, rotted leaves, manures – and use them as mulch over the whole root-zone, without piling it up against the trunk.
The Samaritan Kousa Dogwood is more adaptable and a little easier to grow than the American dogwood. Most of all it is resistant to a serious and often deadly disease called anthracnose, that has destroyed thousands of native dogwoods in some areas. The foliage is less likely to become dusty from powdery mildew in the summer, and pests are rare. Deer don’t eat it, and a deep soak from time to time in summer is all it takes for your tree to thrive, once it is established.
The Kousa Dogwood was first described from plants in Japan and Korea, but later the plant collector Ernest Wilson found a similar tree in China, which became Cornus kousa var. chinensis. Most of the kousa dogwoods grown in gardens are forms of that tree, including this one. James Zampini was a prominent nurseryman and breeder who owned Lake County Nursery, in Perry, Ohio, and we owe this great tree to him. It was probably a seedling, found towards the end of the last century. Mr. Zampini named it ‘Samzam’, and in 2003 the nursery trademarked the name Samaritan for it. It is one of 6 varieties of kousa dogwood James Zampini developed, called his ‘Christian’ Series, all with names linked to the Bible.
This spectacular tree has five points of interest (count ‘em!) so it sells five times as fast. We can never keep our dogwoods in stock for long, and named varieties like this are so superior to the seedlings often sold in big-box stores and garden centers. Order now, while we can still satisfy your order.