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Botanical Name: Cornus florida

Common Name: Flowering Dogwood
Origin: E. & C. North America
Location: CSE, CSW, KN


Notable Feature: Considered the aristocrat of native trees because of its flower, fall color, and habit.  Unfortunately, it faced a period of decline, starting in the 1980s, when many became infected by fungal diseases - most notably dogwood anthracnose. Dogwoods seemed destined to disappear. Measures to combat this loss included close attention to cultural conditions, disease treatment, and the breeding of disease-resistant cultivars. Now survivors and replacements for lost trees grace our landscapes.

Habit: Horizontally tiered branching offers an attractive silhouette admired in all seasons, especially in winter. A deciduous, understory tree that can reach up to 20 to 30 feet or more in height with an equal spread.

Flower: Clusters of perfect (bisexual), small, yellow flowers are surrounded by 4 large, very showy, white bracts. The blossoms, 2” in diameter, appear before the leaves emerge making them highly visible on the tree. There are also pink-flowered forms with bracts in shade of pinks and reds.

Fruit: Glossy red, ¼ to ½-inch wide drupes occurs in clusters of 3 to 5; enjoyed by the birds in the early fall.

Foliage: Opposite, simple, 3 to 5” long with deep veining. Leaves are dark green until fall at which time they turn a striking purplish red. It is one of the most reliable trees for consistent purple-red fall color year after year.

Interesting fact: Most flowering dogwoods that occur in the wild have white bracts, but a rare pink form can also be spotted from time to time. The first record of a pink-flowering dogwood (Cornus florida f. rubra) was by Mark Catesby in 1731 while hiking in the mountains of Virginia.  As a general rule, pink dogwoods do not come true from seed, so they are usually propagated by grafting and sold under a number of different cultivar names selected for color, size of bract, and/or hardiness.

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