Sometimes a plant is so captivating and rare that it becomes a Holy Grail search for gardeners.

Both dazzling and alluring, the "Magic Dogwood", Cornus florida sppb florida subsp urbiniana, is a rare Mexican variety of the common American Dogwood tree.

Its four white petals (bracts) are fused at the tips so that the blossoms conjure visions of exotic Chinese lanterns. The magnificent blooms cover the plant by the hundreds each spring and like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. The plant is extremely rare in cultivation, and genuine specimens are rarely seen for sale. The Magic Dogwood comes from the mountain forests of eastern Mexico, where it is rare even there. The local climate there is spring-like year round; however the tree has been cold-hardy in Zone 6. In cold areas, it can also be grown in a container and moved indoors for the winter. The plant does not seem to mind warm summers provided that nights are not too warm. The tree normally grows in the forest understory, so it appreciates some protection from strong afternoon sun. Nice (but expensive) grafted plants are currently (but sure to sell out quickly) available from Bloom River Gardens in Oregon.

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