Flowering Dogwood (Florida)

The Flowering Dogwood (Florida) is generally described as a perennial tree or shrub. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The Flowering Dogwood (Florida) has green foliage and inconspicuous white flowers, with a moderate amount of conspicuous red fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the early spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Flowering Dogwood (Florida) has a short life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Flowering Dogwood (Florida) will reach up to 40 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 30 feet.

The Flowering Dogwood (Florida) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, cuttings, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -30°F. has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: Flowering dogwood root bark was used by Native Americans as a fever reducer, skin astringent, an antidiarrheal agent, and as a pain reliever for headaches, sores, and muscle inflammations. It was also used to counteract the effects of many poisons and as a general tonic for unspecified ailments. The bark was used for headache and backache relief, as a throat aid for hoarseness, and as an infusion for childhood diseases like worms and measles. Flowers were infused to

reduce fever and relieve colic pains. Compound infusions of several plant parts were used as blood purifiers and as medicine for blood diseases like malaria.

Ornamental: The showy blossoms and attractive fall foliage make flowering dogwood a valuable ornamental species. It is commonly used in landscape and street plantings. As a garden tree, it is used for shade around patios, as a shrub border or backdrop species, or as single specimens in the lawn. It is best suited for plantings receiving less than full-day sun.

Restoration: Flowering dogwood is a soil improver because its leaf litter decomposes more rapidly than most other species. For this reason flowering dogwood has been planted on abandoned strip mines and used for urban forestry projects.

Wildlife: Flowering dogwood is a valuable food plant for wildlife because high calcium and fat contents make it palatable. Many bird types including songbirds, forest edge species, and upland game birds (e.g. wild turkey) consume the seeds. The eastern chipmunk, white-footed mouse, gray fox, gray squirrel, black bear, beaver, white-tailed deer, and skunk readily consume flowering dogwood seeds as well. Beaver, rabbits, and deer browse the leaves and sprouts of the plant. Flowering dogwood also provides shelter and habitat for many wildlife species.

Wood production: The wood of flowering dogwood has been harvested for the manufacture of tool handles, charcoal, wheel cogs, hayforks, and pulleys. It is occasionally used to make specialty items like golf club heads, roller skate wheels, knitting needles, and spools. The wood is hard, strong, and shock resistant, making it suitable for wood products that need to withstand rough use.

General Characteristics

General: Dogwood Family (Cornaceae). Flowering dogwood is a deciduous multi-branched shrub or small tree, characterized by a rounded crown and horizontal branches that spread wider than its height. Flowering dogwood is typically 5 to 15 m tall. The bark on mature trees is broken into small square blocks that give the stem an “alligator” appearance. Leaves are opposite, simple, medium-green in color, 7.6 to 15 cm long, and less than 7 cm wide. The veins follow the elliptic curve of the leaf (arcuate). Autumn foliage turns red or purple. The flowers are yellow, very small, and clustered into inflorescences that are surrounded by 4 large white (pink) bracts. Each bract has a rounded notch on the outer edge. The fruit are yellow to red berrylike drupes that contain one to two cream-colored, ellipsoid seeds. Flowers appear between March and June, with or before the leaves, and persist for 2 to 4 weeks. Fruits ripen in September and October.

Key characteristics of flowering dogwood are its opposite leaves with arcuate venation, large showy flowers (bracts), onion-shaped terminal flower buds, and alligator bark on mature trees.

Required Growing Conditions

Flowering dogwood is native to the northeastern and southeastern United States. It occurs from Maine, south to Florida and west to eastern Texas, Missouri, Illinois, and southern Michigan. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site (http://plants.usda.gov).

Habitat: Flowering dogwood is an important understory species in the eastern deciduous and southern coniferous forests. It is also found on floodplains, slopes, bluffs, ravines, gum swamps, along fencerows, and in old-field communities. It is mentioned in 22 of the 90 Society of American Foresters forest cover types including jack pine, beech-sugar maple, eastern hemlock, oak-hickory, and prairie.

Adaptation The USDA hardiness zones for flowering dogwood is 5 to 9. Flowering dogwood trees grow best in course to medium textured, well-drained soils with a pH range of 6 to 7. They are sensitive to rapidly changing soil temperature and are most abundant in temperature-consistent woodland soils. Although they are tolerant of seasonal dry periods, they are not tolerant of severe drought or heavy, saturated soils. The inability to grow on extremely dry sites is attributed to their shallow root system.

Flowering dogwood is an indicator of rich soil (mesic sites), but smaller trees will occur on more xeric sites. Trees growing in the mesic sites are more susceptible to dogwood anthracnose (see Pests and Potential Problems). In the future, flowering dogwood may only be found on poor, dry sites.

Partial or broken shade is best, but flowering dogwood can tolerate full sun. It does best with some shade in the south and full sun in the north. Shaded trees are less dense, grow more quickly and taller, and have poor flowering and fall color. Trees exposed to more sun are stouter, bushier, and produce more flowers.

Flowering dogwood is not tolerant of stresses such as heat, drought, pollution, or salt. These stresses make flowering dogwood more susceptible to disease, pests, and other problems.

Cultivation and Care

Flowering dogwood is intolerant of extended drought periods, especially during the first year after planting. Daily watering is necessary for the first few weeks following planting. After one month, watering should be reduced to two times per week and continue for one year. Establishment takes 6 to 12 months for each inch of trunk diameter. Larger trees benefit from irrigation during the second year.


Flowering dogwood is endangered in Maine, exploitably vulnerable in New York, and threatened in Vermont.

General Upkeep and Control

Flowering dogwood is moderately resistant to herbicides although direct application of Garlon has killed the plant. Mechanically cutting stems results in smaller resprouts. Midsummer-cut regeneration is typically smaller and shorter than regeneration from winter-cut.

Plants commonly resprout from the root crown after aboveground vegetation is damaged or destroyed by fire. The aboveground portions of flowering dogwood are readily damaged by fire because the thin bark allows fatal levels of heat to reach the cambium very quickly. Post-fire recovery is generally more rapid after surface fires than after crown fires.

Extreme soil moisture and flooding is detrimental to the survival of flowering dogwood. The tree can be uprooted in saturated soil. Excess water also leaves this plant susceptible to pests and diseases.

Established trees in partial or deep shade need irrigation only in times of drought. Those in full sun will need regular irrigation throughout their lives.

Pests and Potential Problems Dogwood borer larvae move through openings in the bark and feed on the trunks of flowering dogwood. If the cambium is destroyed branches or the entire tree will die. Leaves will turn red and drop early, and bark will slough off around holes on the trunk or branches. An advantageous point of entry for larvae is through wounds. For this reason, avoid hitting the trunk with lawn mowers or string trimmers to prevent infestation. Insecticides are preventative, but will not control an existing infestation.

Twig borers will kill the tips of young twigs, but rarely kill an entire tree because they are usually present in small numbers. Twig borers tunnel through the pith and deposit ambrosia fungi as a food source for larvae. This infestation causes wilted leaves at the end of branches, and can be controlled by pruning infected twigs below the discolored pith area.

Larvae of the dogwood club-gall midge cause twigs to swell at the base of flowering dogwood leaves. An early symptom of club gall is a wilted, deformed leaf. The twig beyond the gall may die, but galls can be pruned and destroyed. In early fall, larvae drop from the gall to over winter on the ground. A light infestation is not harmful, but a heavy infestation will stunt the growth of the tree.

Flowering dogwood is threatened by dogwood blight caused by the dogwood anthracnose fungus. Tan and purple colored leaf spots develop in the lower canopy and progress up the tree. Infection spreads into the shoots, main branches, and trunk causing cankers to form. Multiple cankers can girdle the trunk and kill the tree. Diseased trees produce shoots that also become infected on the lower trunk and leaves. Stressful environmental conditions like drought or acid rain may weaken trees, predisposing them to dogwood blight. Dogwood blight can be controlled if the disease is detected before branch dieback begins. Prune and remove all dead twigs, dead limbs, and new shoots, and rake and remove fallen leaves. Remove crowding vegetation and thin the canopy to promote air circulation. Avoid nitrogen fertilizer. Fungicides can prevent infestations of new leaves and flowers.

Spot anthracnose attacks flowering dogwood leaves, stems, flowers, and buds. Spots are usually very small with reddish or purplish borders. Severe infestations can prevent flower buds from opening, distort leaves, and weaken trees. Fungicides containing bordeaux 4-4-100, chlorothalonil, or mancozeb can control spot anthracnose on new plant tissue. Clean up and dispose of infected leaves on the ground near the tree since this is where the fungi survive the winter.

Cankers form at wound sites and allow entrance to harmful insects and fungi. Initial symptoms of cankers are blackened or water soaked areas on the bark. This area will grow and will ooze a black liquid. Leaves will appear smaller and paler. Cankers cannot be controlled. Prevent formation by avoiding trunk wounds.

Root inju

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Tree, Shrub
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Short
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Early Spring
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Multiple Stem
Drought Tolerance Low
Shade Tolerance Tolerant
Height When Mature 40
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color White
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Spring Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Cuttings, Seed
Moisture Requirements Low
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -30
Soil Depth for Roots 18
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4–7.7 pH
Precipitation Range 28–28 inches/yr
Planting Density 1200–2700 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 18
Minimum Frost-Free Days 150 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Low
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database, plants.usda.gov.
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA