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Cornus alternifolia
  • Cornus alternifolia

Cornus alternifolia

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(American Wedding Cake Tree) The classic green leaved species native to parts of Eastern North America, Cornus alternifolia is a large shrub with wide, spreading tiers of branches once established.

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The classic green leaved species native to parts of Eastern North America, Cornus alternifolia is a large shrub with wide, spreading tiers of branches once established.

More vigorous than the variegated cultivar, Cornus alternifolia has clusters of small white flowers in summer which stand out particularly well against the dark green leaves. In autumn, the leaves can turn purple, orange or scarlet before falling.


  • Position: Full sun or light, dappled shade.
  • Soil: Fertile soil.
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Flowering Period: June.
  • Flower Colour: White
  • Rate of Growth: Vigorous.
  • Habit: Cornus alternifolia grows to be a large shrub with a handsome tiered shape once established.
    • Height: up to 6 m (20 ft)
    • Spread: 3 m (10 ft)
  • Pruning: After planting, look for a strongly growing stem developing after about two to four years, perhaps growing at an odd angle but obviously much more vigorous than the normal shoots. Train this stem vertically (usually up a thin bamboo cane or similar) to form the trunk and basis of the tiered structure.
  • Some plants occasionally produce two or even three of these vigorous "leaders", in this case remove all but the most central one. Once established we find a new tier of branches develop every four years or so.

11 Items

Data sheet

How Much Sun
Full Sun, Light Shade, Shade
Eventual Size
Tree - Small
Growing Conditions
Soil Type: Alkaline, Soil Type: Damp / Wet, Special: Coastal Areas, Special: Windy, Soil Type: Acid, Soil Type: Not Fussy, Soil Type: Dry / Sandy
Special Features
Flowering in Summer, Autumn Colour