Giant dogwood (Cornus controversa)

NE corner of Campus Services' Building parking lot Map

Four of these attractive trees had to be uprooted to make way for a parking lot. The same parking lot also claimed our only black cottonwoods. As C. contraversa is small, attractive, and even somewhat unusual our gardening staff dug them up in the nick of time and planted them elsewhere. Only this one survived. Alas, there was no hope for the cottonwoods; even the fact that they may have been the tallest trees on campus couldn't save them. Go look for their cousins, in the woods.

Giant dogwood is native to Asia, from the Himalaya eastward. They were introduced to North America in the 20th century and still appear to be relatively rare, judging from the dearth of information I could find in my many reference books. In their native range they are truly giant - to 100 ft. tall. In our area they may reach half that, given plenty of time.

Two attributes of C. contraversa are worth mentioning. First, unlike most other dogwoods its leaves alternate along the stem instead of being arranged opposite one another. Only the shrubby native American dogwood C. alternafolia shares this characteristic. Second, the giant dogwood tends to carry its branches in distinct layers (ours is beginning to "layer" but isn't there yet - give it time.) This shape gives the tree its alternative name, the table dogwood.

As our pictures suggest, the giant dogwood is a very attractive tree, especially in full bloom. WWU car commuters will certainly appreciate its beauty while waiting in line to pay their parking fines!