By Darrell Blackwelder
Because of the unusually warm winter, many flowering trees and shrubs look the best they’ve looked in years. Below are a few questions about flowering plants Cooperative Extension has received over the past few weeks that may be of interest.
What is most interesting is that all the flowers in the questions are white.
Q: (From a visitor at the Agriculture Center) There is a plant in the front of Agriculture Center that is growing in a pot and has a really pretty white bloom. It is labeled as a dogwood, but it really doesn’t look like a dogwood. Can you tell me what type of dogwood this may be?
A: It is indeed a yellow twig dogwood (Cornus sericea Flaviramea). It’s not the native flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) normally found in landscapes and wooded areas throughout Rowan County, although the two trees are related. It has a rapid growth rate, prefering sun to light shade. The plant also requires moist, but well drained soils and reaches a height of nearly 6 feet. It has dull white blooms in the spring similar to a viburnum and reveals its trademark canary yellow stems in winter.
Q: I saw a tree the other day in the landscape that looks just like a dogwood, but its blooms are larger than a dogwood bloom. I thought it was a kousa dogwood, but I don’t think it is a kousa dogwood.
A: It is probably a flowering viburnum (Viburnum plicatum). These are in full bloom now following the dogwood, but before kousa dogwoods bloom. The have flat blooms followed by red berries. Another shrub, also in the viburnum family, is snowball bush (Viburnum opulus). The plant is more upright and can survive in much harsher conditions. Its blooms are white and almost perfectly round.
Q: There is a tree with white blooms on the edge of the woods. The blooms are long and very similar to a wisteria bloom.
A: The white blooms are most likely blooms on a black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) tree. These trees are generally found on the edge of woods, fence rows, etc. The tree is actually a legume, producing long panicles or blooms producing a pod. Go to http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Robinps.htm for more information.
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension Director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.
You can learn more about Cooperative Extension by calling 704-216-8970 or visiting online at www.rowanextension.com