Monday, April 9, 2012

Stellar Pink Dogwood

Stellar Pink® Dogwood (Cornus  Xrutgerensis  Stellar Pink®), is a disease resistant cross  between Cornus florida  and Cornus kousa developed by Rutgers University Plant Biology and Pathology Professor Dr. Elwin Orton. This sterile hybrid was introduced in the mid 1990’s after twenty five years of research. The Stellar Pink® Dogwood is one of six in the Stellar Series®.   According to Michael Dirr, “ The six hybrids of the Stellar Series® represent Rutgers University’s answer to dogwood decline.” The Stellar cultivars are highly resistant to the dogwood borer as well as significantly resistant to powdery mildew and dogwood anthracnose. 

Dogwood anthracnose, a severe threat to dogwoods, was first seen in the southeast during the 1970s. The Flowering Dogwood, (Cornus florida) is particularly susceptible to this disease.  Dr. Alan Windham, professor of entomology and plant pathology at the University of Tennessee, identifies dogwood anthracnose as a potentially fatal fungal disease. On dogwoods it causes angular brown leaf spots from tissue death as well as cankers, and twig dieback in late spring to early summer. Brown spots may also appear on the bracts.  It can lead to defoliation which causes tree decline or death. Trees in heavily shaded damp areas are at increased risk of decline from dogwood anthracnose.

Plant the fast growing Stellar Pink® Dogwood in well-drained soil. The optimum planting time is late fall or early winter. Make sure it receives weekly watering for the first year. This disease resistant, low maintenance tree adapts to partial or full sun. Less pyramidal than c. kousa and c. florida, it grows to 25 feet in height and width. The soft pink rounded bracts appear later than those of the c. florida.  Fall foliage is a vivid burgundy red. 

By Jan Castillo, MG’05

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