Common Name: Flowering dogwood
Cornus florida, commonly known as flowering dogwood, is a small deciduous tree that typically grows 15-30’ tall with a low-branching, broadly-pyramidal but somewhat flat-topped habit. It arguably may be the most beautiful of the native American flowering trees. It is native from Maine to southern Ontario to Illinois to Kansas south to Florida, Texas and Mexico. It is the state tree of Missouri and Virginia. It blooms in early spring (April) shortly after, but usually overlapping, the bloom period of the redbuds. The true dogwood flowers are actually tiny, yellowish green and insignificant, being compacted into button-like clusters. However, each flower cluster is surrounded by four showy, white, (sometimes light pink to dark pink – with some hybrids reliably colored in shades of pink/red), petal-like bracts which open flat, giving the appearance of a single, large, 3-4” diameter, 4-petaled, white flower. Oval, dark green leaves (3-6” long) turn attractive shades of red in fall. Bright red fruits are bitter and inedible to humans (some authors say poisonous) but are loved by birds. Fruits mature in late summer to early fall and may persist until late in the year.
A non-native variety, Cornus Kousa, or Korean dogwood blossoms somewhat later and is more disease resistant. It also is available in a red bract (flower) form, ‘Scarlet Fire’, being the best of those available.
Native Range: Eastern North America
State flower for Virginia
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 15.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White (bracts)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree and fall color
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil, Black Walnut
Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, organically rich, acidic soils in part shade. Benefits from a 2-4” mulch which will help keep roots cool and moist in summer. May be inadvisable at this time to plant this tree in areas where dogwood anthracnose infestations are present (see problems section below).
Genus name comes from the Latin word cornu meaning horn in probable reference to the strength and density of the wood. Cornus is also the Latin name for cornelian cherry.
Specific epithet comes from the Latin word flos flower in reference to its attractive spring flowers.
Common name of dogwood is in probable reference to an old-time use of hard slender stems from this tree for making skewers once known as dags or dogs.
Flowering dogwood, when stressed, is susceptible to a rather large number of disease problems, the most serious of which is dogwood anthracnose, caused by the fungus Discula destructiva. Although this anthracnose is not yet a serious problem in Missouri, it has caused considerable devastation in parts of the eastern U.S. Plants are also susceptible to powdery mildew, leaf spot, canker, root rot and leaf and twig blight. Stressed trees also become vulnerable to borers. Leaf miner and scale are less serious potential insect pests.
During the industrial revolution, dogwood, as it is a very hard wood, was used to make shuttles for the textile industry, also used for Golf club heads, bows (archery), mallets, pulleys, and turned objects..
Popular as a specimen or small grouping on residential property around homes, near patios or in lawns. Also effective in woodland, bird or native plant gardens.
“We would like to acknowledge Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service for the contribution of their resources to produce this material which has been adapted to reflect the specific region of our gardens and our own experience in growing and working with such material."