Native Dogwoods Mostly Gone in the Forest

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Dogwood anthracnose was first diagnosed in 1978. Since then it has basically wiped out the dogwood in the forests of Western North Carolina. A few survivors can still be found here and these in the mountains but for the most part these are few and far between. This arboricultural tragedy has been mostly forgotten. Article from 1994 about Dogwood Blight.

The Dogwood anthracnose fungus infects wood creating a canker which eventually causes plant death. Plants in moist shady areas were particularly susceptible. This includes the dogwood of the mountains. Dead dogwood stems still stand in many areas.

dogwood spot anthracnose

Spot anthracnose is not fatal to dogwoods. It can however make plants look ugly during wet summers.

Look Alike

Do not confuse Dogwood anthracnose with Spot anthracnose. Spot anthracnose disease is not fatal to dogwoods. It does cause a severe leaf spot and leaf crinkling during wet years. Powdery mildew can crinkle up leaves as well. Control of these diseases is very difficult with fungicides requiring spraying every 7-10 days during the growing season. The best thing to do is keep the plants healthy through proper care and to remove the infected fallen leaves.

powdery mildew dogwood

Powdery mildew fungus causes dogwood leaves to crinkle.

Proper planting and care can help dogwoods in the landscape survive. Proper planting, adequate but not excessive mulching, avoiding too much sun, watering during drought and fertilizing can help trees fight diseases. Using Spot anthracnose resistant varieties is important.

From NC Plants

Cultivars / Varieties:

  • ‘Appalachian Blush’
  • ‘Appalachian Spring’
    white flowers
  • ‘Cherokee Brave’
    Red flowers, resistant to powdery mildew, moderately resistant to spot anthracnose
  • ‘Cherokee Chief’
    Red flowers, resistant to spot anthracnose
  • ‘Cherokee Daybreak’
    Variegated foliage, highly susceptible to spot anthracnose
  • ‘Cherokee Princess’
    White flowers, highly susceptible to spot anthracnose
  • ‘Cherokee Sunset’
    variegated foliage
  • ‘Cloud 9’
    white flowers
  • ‘Double White’
    Moderately resistant to powdery mildew and spot anthracnose
  • ‘Pringlei’
  • ‘Pygmy’
    dwarf cultivar
  • ‘Rubra’
    Pink flowers, moderately resistant to spot antracnose
  • ‘Sweetwater’
    red flowers
  • ‘Weaver’s White’
    Resistant to spot anthracnose
  • ‘Welch’s Bay Beauty’
    Resistant to spot anthracnose

dogwood flower