Am thinking of buying this tree have read online that the fruit falls in early fall and is messy. My question is – do birds in Toronto and/or squirrels or other animals eat the fruit? Or will i get a mess of fruit on my patio (I will be planting it a few feet from it). Am thinking of some crab apples that used to be on my street – want to avoid that kind of mess. Or is it hard to say for sure. Thanks
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. Cornus kousa (Japanese dogwood) trees are loved for their beautiful blossoms. Cornus kousa were originally imported from Asia, for use as an ornamental shrub/tree. However, the rich, red berries are much larger than berries of our native dogwoods, resulting in our local birds having difficulties eating them. Birds will sometimes eat the fallen, rotten berries off the ground, but they prefer smaller berries. These characteristics lead to the Cornus kousa’s reputation of being a “messy” tree.
Our research for your query located an interesting article published by The National Wildlife Federation: “Going Native”. There is a belief that the introduction of Japanese dogwoods into North America may have resulted in decreased native dogwood populations through the spread of dogwood anthracnose, a fungal disease that impacts our native dogwood, but not the Japanese dogwood. This decrease in native flowering dogwoods reduces a key food source for birds and butterflies. According to Doug Tallamy, respected American entomologist, ecologist and conservationist, Kousa berries are not part of our North American food web.
And so we suggest, as a very good alternative tree to ‘Satomi’, Amelanchier canadensis, our native serviceberry. Serviceberry trees have small white flowers in the spring, berries that are devoured by the birds, and beautiful fall foliage. Further, the Toronto Master Gardener Gardening Guide “Gardening with Native Shrubs” lists a number of other native shrubs that you may want to consider. This Guide also includes a link to a list of local native plant nurseries.
Best of luck with your new flowering tree selection, and thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.