California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Cornus nuttallii * Mountain Dogwood

In the Spring and Fall Cornus nuttallii is unforgettable. When I first saw the Mountain Dogwood I was surprised that there was a California native dogwood. I had always thought of the dogwoods as eastern plants. Cornus nuttallii grows in the mixed evergreen woodland as part of the under-story. Cornus nuttallii forms a big componet of the Redwood understory. It can grow to 40 feet but is most often 20 feet or less. The Mountain Dogwood naturally grows in areas that get lots of rain, 50-75" is not uncommon, and at altitudes of around 3000 feet and up to 6000 feet. The Mountain Dogwoods are often found mixed in the understory of redwood groves in the Sierras. I have seen attempts at growing dogwoods in more drought prone portions of the state. This can be difficult. One of the most critical aspects of growing the native Mountain Dogwood is planting it in the shade of larger trees. Compensating for the salinity of lowland water can be accomplished by using soil sulfur or gypsum. Adding copious quantities of organic material is always a good idea in the garden. Organic material releases acid as it breaks down buffering the salts suspended in the water. Given a cool shady moist location with lots of organic material Cornus nuttallii can be grown, even in Southern California.

High resolution photos of Cornus nuttallii are part of our garden image collection

Cornus nuttallii, Mountain Dogwood
Spring Flowers
of Cornus nuttallii

Cornus nuttallii seeds, Mountain Dogwood
Fall Seeds
of Cornus nuttallii

Cornus nuttallii, Fall Leaves
Fall Leaves
of Cornus nuttallii