The flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) shows off its "flowers" in spring, but those blooms are actually bracts, a type of leaf (see Reference 1). In addition to their popularity as landscape plantings, these native North American trees have a variety of uses and even legendary significance.
American Indians planted their crops when the dogwoods bloomed. They also used dogwood root to treat malaria. The root's inner bark contains the alkaloid cornin (see Reference 3).
Flowering dogwoods are prone to fungal diseases and insect damage. Dogwood anthracnose, a leaf disease, has killed many dogwood trees in the eastern United States (see Reference 3).
The flowering dogwood produces red fruit in the fall. The fruit is edible, but not very tasty (see Reference 2).
The dogwood is the state tree of Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia. It is also the state flower of Virginia (see http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/collections/statetreeflower.html).
Wood from the dogwood tree wears smoothly and resists splitting. It is a popular choice for golf club heads, tool handles, mallet heads and spindles. The wood was once used for wheels, hay forks and machine bearings (see Reference 3).
The flowering dogwood grows to about 20 feet. According to legend, Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross made of dogwood. Afterward, God decreed that the dogwood would be a small tree so that it could no longer be used for crosses (see Reference 3).
- Clemson University Extension: Dogwoods
- U.S. National Arboretum: Dogwood
- University of Kentucky: Flowering Dogwood
dogwood, flowering, tree
About this Author
D.M. Cameron was a journalist and editor for wire services, newspapers and magazines for more than 20 years. In addition to editing and ghost-writing non-fiction books, Cameron now writes for several websites and trade journals. Cameron's degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State.