Dogwood trees are probably best known for the beautiful flowers produced each season. However, according to Reed College, the dogwood flower is not a flower, "but rather a collection of large outer scales called 'bracts.' The true flowers are very small and are clustered in a small group at the center of the arrangement." Dogwood trees belong to the Cornaceae family, and this includes many kinds of dogwood trees.
Cornus florida is known as the Eastern dogwood or the flowering dogwood. This kind of dogwood is native to North America and grows best in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9A. Cornus florida is available with pink and red bracts, varying according to the cultivar grown; but white is the species color. The fruits produced are bright red. This kind of dogwood tree grows to mature heights ranging from 20 to 30 feet with canopies 25 to 30 feet wide and blossoms in the spring.
Cornus kousa is known by the common names of kousa dogwood, Japanese dogwood and Chinese dogwood. It is native to Korea and Japan, but will grow in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8. This kind of dogwood tree produces white bracts and a fruit that resembles big raspberries, which the wildlife enjoys. Cornus kousa dogwood trees reach full-grown heights ranging from 15 to 20 feet with equal size spreads and produce showy spring blossoms (bracts).
Cornus alternifolia, is often called pagoda dogwood or alternate-leaved dogwood. This kind of dogwood tree is native to North America and grows best in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 7. The Cornus alternifolia typically grows parallel to the ground, produces greenish-white bracts and generates fruits that ranges in color from blue, purple and black. Cornus alternifolia grow to 15 to 25 feet tall with canopies ranging from 15 to 30 feet, and the bracts appear at the end of summer.