Mt Cuba Center
Explore the Gardens Virtual Tour Virtual Tour

Mt. Cuba is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm.

An ecological gardening certificate student completes a Native Plants of Fall exam in Mt. Cuba Center's naturalistic gardens.
Ecological Gardening Certificate Learn More Learn More
Program Guide

Classes offered year-round. Learn to garden in harmony with nature, take an art or wellness class, and more!

Wide shot of flowering Amsonia.
Latest Trial: Amsonia for the Mid-Atlantic Region Amsonia for the Mid-Atlantic Region Amsonia for the Mid-Atlantic Region
Trial Garden

Mt. Cuba Center evaluates native plants and related cultivars for horticultural and ecological value.

Mt. Cuba Center's natural lands pictured at sunset.
Protecting Natural Lands Learn More Learn More
Ecological Land Management

Mt. Cuba conserves and stewards more than 1,000 acres including meadows, forests, streams and riparian corridors.

Two guests walk down the West Slope path in spring at Mt. Cuba Center.
Gift a Membership Gift Guide Gift Guide

Enjoy unlimited general admission, member discounts, guest passes, and more!

Mt Cuba Center
Back to list

Cornus alternifolia

Native Plants

Pagoda dogwood

4 Photos


With its unusual tiered branching structure, pagoda dogwood (Swida alternifolia) will surely capture attention as a specimen tree in your landscape. This small, deciduous tree will reach a height of 15-30’ with an irregular, open habit. In late spring, it bears small fragrant flowers in flat-topped clusters, followed by berries that turn from green to blue black as summer progresses. Interesting coral fruit stalks persist after the berries are gone. Pagoda dogwood grows best in a partly sunny location and prefers acidic soil that is cool and moist. Some excellent companions include roseshell azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum), coast leucothoe (Leucothoe axillaris), blue wood aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium), and blue-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia). Formerly known as Cornus alternifolia. Zones 3-7. 

More Details

  • Plant Type
  • Sun/Shade Conditions
  • Foliage Character
  • Soil Moisture
  • Flowering Period
  • Soil PH
  • Flower Color
  • Summer Foliage Color
  • Fall Foliage Color
    green, purple, yellow 
  • Other Common Names
    alternate leaf dogwood 
  • Fruit/Seed Color
    black, blue 

Additional Information

USDA Plants Database, Fine Gardening