A small deciduous tree with spreading branches, the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) bears many flowers in mid-spring with white-colored bracts. Horticulturists prize pure white-colored bracts, and many selections bear white "flowers," but with other ornamental features like variegated leaves, bright red berries and vibrant fall foliage colors.
These cultivars, or cultivated varieties, of flowering dogwood all produce white bracts, but bear leaves with at least one other color than the typical green. Green leaves edged with yellow grow on 'First Lady,' while more golden yellow edges appear on those of 'Hohman's Gold.' White-rimmed green leaves grow upon 'Cherokee Daybreak.'
Rather than each flower cluster producing only four white bracts, 'Pluribracteata' usually develops a group of six to eight white bracts around the true tiny green flowers. Plus, smaller bracts surround the flowers to make each "blossom" look extra full, a flower form called "double." This selection's bracts last longer than other flowering dogwoods, and appear slightly later in spring. Any flowering dogwood that mutates and produces eight white bracts gains the generic variety name of 'Plena.' These flowers' form range from semi-double to double.
Other White Varieties
Even though these selections of white flowering dogwoods grow ordinary green leaves and four-bracted "flowers," their mature growth size or form provides additional options for different garden settings and design tastes. Bearing large white bracts, 'Cloud Nine,' 'Springtime,' 'Cherokee Princess,' 'Jean's Appalachian Snow' "flowers" unfurl wider than 4-inches in diameter.
All-white bract occur on 'Ozark Springs,' 'Sterling Silver,' and 'Appalachian Spring.' 'Fragrant Cloud' produces a faint scent reminiscent of a gardenia's aroma. Hints of pink appear on the edges of the white bracts on selection 'Kay's Appalachian Blush' and notches of violet at the tips of white bracts appear on 'Karen's Appalachian Mist.' Weeping, pendent branches form on 'Pendula.'
Genetically crossing flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) with Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) produces trees with slightly larger white bracts and a natural resilience against anthracnose and mildew diseases. Although not true flowering dogwoods, these cultivated varieties resemble flowering dogwoods and nurseries may market them as "hybrid or disease-resistant flowering dogwoods." Names of white-flowering hybrids include 'Aurora,' 'Ruth Ellen,' 'Stardust' and 'Galaxy,' the last one marketed under the trademark name of Celestial.