401 Avon Rd.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Cornus florida, the flowering dogwood, is considered an aristocrat of small flowering trees because of its four-season character – spring flower, summer and fall foliage, and winter appearance. It’s an understory tree, frequently wider than tall. An excellent landscape choice, the dogwood is a favorite in many yards, gardens and public areas. Its flowers bloom in April and May, usually before the leaves. The flowers themselves are actually tiny, greenish-yellow in color, and bunched into a head and bordered by four large white bracts, which are small, leaf- like structures such as in poinsettias. The leaves provide excellent red to reddish-purple leaves in fall, and glossy red fruits attract songbirds (and squirrels) in winter. 

The fruit is a cluster of 3- 4 or more glossy red drupes that ripen in September to October that are eaten by over 40 bird species. The hard, close-grained wood is extremely shock-resistant and is used for tool handles, mallets, golf club heads and other such items.

The dogwood is a great option to plant near utility lines, next to larger buildings, or near patios. It also offers nice contrast when planted along with pink or red dogwoods with larger evergreens in the background. When in the wild, dogwoods can typically be found at the forest edge and frequently on dry ridges.     

A favorite in America for centuries, both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson planted dogwoods on their plantations. Early Native Americans made medicinal teas from its bark, and desperate Civil War doctors used this tea as a quinine substitute. The wood is extremely hard and has been used for weaver’s shuttles, chisel and maul handles, golf club heads and yokes. It is the state tree of Missouri and Virginia.


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