A friend recently asked me to identify a tree that "is blooming now, and looks a little like a dogwood, but it is not". It didn't take a botanical Sherlock Holmes to figure out she was asking about the Japanese Dogwood, Cornus kousa.
This tree very much resembles "our" Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida, the major differences being tapering points on the bracts (which look like flower petals) and a June flowering date. Flowering Dogwood, a large understory shrub or small tree blooms in May, while its Japanese (Chinese or Korean) cousin blooms a bit later, in June.
You can find many of these trees in flower in landscapes all across Ohio, as they were really pushed by the landscape industry ten or so year ago. I can remember hearing stories about the "good dogwoods" vs. our local "bad dogwoods". At the time a disease call dogwood anthracnose was attacking many trees and making them susceptible to death by borer, an insect prone to attacking our native trees. MInd you, many of the trees that were diseased had already been stressed by being mis-placed in the landscape- somewhere in the full sun in a dry, clay based lawn. These are conditions not at all similar to the preferred growth habits of Cornus florida.
Again, while I won't dig up my Cornus kousa and toss it, as the large fruits are still beneficial to birds, my next Dogwood will be of the native variety. And the good news: I recently read that dogwood anthracnose, the disease we were told would eliminate all our native dogwoods, is now not nearly the problem the experts predicted it would be.
If you are looking for a "pet" tree- you can't go wrong with a "dog"wood. I find the bark downright pleasant. :)