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Flowering dogwood a 4 season landscape favorite

Updated on April 23, 2015
Patsybell profile image

I inherited my love of gardening from mother and grandmother. I am a garden blogger, freelance writer, and Master Gardener emeritus.

Spring flowering native dogwoods

Dogwood tree blossoms are actually leaves, called bracts that open in white.
Dogwood tree blossoms are actually leaves, called bracts that open in white. | Source

The poetry of dogwoods

"High o'er all the early floral train,

Where softness all the arching sky resumes,

The dogwood dancing to the winds' refrain,

In stainless glory spreads its snowy blooms."

-George Marion McClellan (1860-1934)

Dogwoods are a food source

Plant dogwoods to attract birds. The fruit of the dogwood tree is excellent for wildlife. People shouldn't eat the scarlet fruits.
Plant dogwoods to attract birds. The fruit of the dogwood tree is excellent for wildlife. People shouldn't eat the scarlet fruits. | Source

Beautiful spring blooming trees

Dogwoods have inspired legends, festivals and tours. These small spring blooming trees attract pollinators and provide food for birds and wildlife. In the fall, leaves turn pure red.

In the wild, the flowering dogwoods flourish in moist, shady areas with nutrient-rich soil. In the home landscape, dogwoods will generally tolerate a range of soil conditions and both full sun and shade. In heavy shade, dogwood trees will not bloom.

Dogwoods depend on bees, beetles, butterflies, and other insects for pollination. Trees are not browsed by deer.

The fruits last from September through December. Some of the animals that eat the bright red fruits are song birds, wild turkeys, foxes, racoons, deer and chipmunks. The seeds are spread by birds and animals who eat the fruits and poop the seeds out in different places.

Plant dogwoods as a specimen tree to accent home landscapes. Line a driveway or border the property.

Dogwoods are deciduous, and belong to the family Cornaceae. Theses trees or shrubs are considered woody plants, with a perennial stem with thick bark.

Landscapers love their four-season attraction. Cornus florida has spring flowers, summer fruits, spectacular fall color and an interesting winter silhouette.

A bible story told in flowers

The flower is actually the yellow center or "crown of thorns." The white "petals" are actually leaves called bracts.
The flower is actually the yellow center or "crown of thorns." The white "petals" are actually leaves called bracts. | Source

The legend of the dogwood

Once dogwood trees were tall and straight as the giant redwoods. And so, it was chosen to build Jesus' cross.

The dogwood tree was shamed and distressed to be chosen for such a cruel purpose. Jesus sensed the tree's pity and shame while he was nailed upon the cross of dogwood.

Because of the dogwood tree had such pity for the suffering of Jesus, the Lord said, “Never again will a dogwood tree grow tall and strong enough to be used for a cross.” To this day, the dogwood tree is slim and grows twisted or bent.

There are four petals in each flower that form a cross. The two long and two short petals represent the cross. The trees bloom every spring to tell the Easter story.

In the center of the flower is the crown of thorns stained with blood. At the edge of each petal there is the print of the nail. Every flower on the dogwood tree tells the legend of the dogwood.*

Adoring dogwoods

Do you love these small spring flowering trees?

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Dogwood understory

Growing in partial sun, dogwoods are usually shaded by taller trees.
Growing in partial sun, dogwoods are usually shaded by taller trees. | Source

Finding a man

In frontier times in the American west, a young girl newly of marriageable age would wear a white dogwood flower to go out walking, with the expectation that the first man she met wearing a white hat would have the same first name as the man she would one day marry.

A tree for all seasons

season
asset
advantages
winter
bonus winter color
deer do not browse
spring
long flowering period
small size ideal for suburbs
summer
excellent habitat
few insect or disease problems
fall
scarlet red foliage
provides food for birds
Native Americans created cutting tools (daggers) and arrows from dogwood. They also made toothbrushes from dogwood. A special tobacco mixture made from the inner bark of the dogwood was used in the sacred pipe by the Potawatomi, Cheyenne, Apache and

Dogwood Festivals

A sampling of cities and towns in the USA that hold dogwood festivals. These are usually annual events coinciding with the blooming of the trees in the spring.

Pink dogwood

Dogwood (Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief')
Dogwood (Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief') | Source

Native American Indian legends

A beautiful Cherokee princess was once courted by a brave. When she ignored his advances, he flew into a rage and killed the maiden.

As the princess lay dying, the blossoms of a dogwood soaked up her blood. The tale is explains the red stains at the tip of each petal. The pink flowered dogwood is named Cherokee in honor of this legend.

  • Thomas Jefferson loved dogwoods, he planted them extensively at his home in Monticello, Virginia. It is now the state tree in Virginia, North Carolina and, Missouri.

An American Indian chief who had four beautiful daughters. He said he would marry each daughter to suitors who brought him the greatest number of ponies or the most valuable gifts. The Great Spirit disapproved of the plan of selling the girls, & so turned the chief into a small tree with twisted branches. His daughters are the four showy bracts of the dogwood flowers.

How to grow a dogwood tree

The flowering dogwood tree, also known as Cornus florida, is a member of the Cornaceae family. Dogwoods grow in nature as understory trees, so they naturally prefer part sun and nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. They prefer afternoon shade or some protection from the harshest sunlight. The tree is usually grows 20 - 30 feet in height or about 18 inches in diameter.

Pruning dogwoods to improve their vigor and structure just after their flowers fade. Trim trees immediately after bloom to avoid interfering with next springs flowers.

Their small size makes the dogwood ideal for the home landscape. The shallow root system will appreciate additional water during droughts. Take care to protect the tree from lawnmowers and weed trimmers.

Mulch will protect the tree from temperature extremes and prevent soil compaction. A layer of 2” to 4” of mulch will keep the roots and soil moist. Keep the mulch from touching the trunk of the tree.

Dogwoods for winter Interest

 Arctic Fire™ - Red-Osier Dogwood - Cornus stolonifera. Excellent for cutting. Deer resistant.
Arctic Fire™ - Red-Osier Dogwood - Cornus stolonifera. Excellent for cutting. Deer resistant. | Source

Dogwood varieties

  • ♥ The Ozarks are filled with a native flowering dogwood, Cornus florida. The famous Southern dogwood festivals celebrate their long blooming, brilliant white flowers that hug the edges of the woodlands.
  • The Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttalli) USDA zones 8a to 10b, is considered the West Coast version of the flowering dogwood.
  • The roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii), found in USDA zones 2b through 9b.
  • Roundleaf dogwood (Cornus rugosa) are shorter trees found in USDA zones 2b through 7a.
  • The Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), originally from Japan and Korea, is attracting a lot of attenion in nurseries and garden centers. Kousa dogwood grow in USDA zones 2a through 6b. The kousa dogwood grows to a height of 15-25' and a spread of around 25' at maturity. Making it an excellent choice around utilities.


About The Legend of the Dogwood *

* This story of the dogwood is a legend, it has no biblical foundation. The dogwood does not grow in that part of the world. The Legend of the Dogwood appears on postcards and souvenirs throughout the South.

Comments

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  • Ilonagarden profile image

    Ilona E 2 years ago from Ohio

    Dogwoods struggle for me- we are too dry in summer. But I love them, and love the way you have presented them here.

  • Patsybell profile image
    Author

    Patsy Bell Hobson 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    Thank you for your kinds words. It is an honor that you read my hubs. Your votes are appreciated.

  • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

    Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

    Your hubs about flowers, plants and trees are always a pleasure to read and I learn so much from them.

    I have seen these beautiful Dogwood trees but did not know so many details about them.

    Beautiful and informative hub indeed. Thanks and voted up!

  • Patsybell profile image
    Author

    Patsy Bell Hobson 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    Glimmer Twin Fan, it is very sad to lose a tree. Thank you for your kind words.

  • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

    Claudia Mitchell 3 years ago

    I love dogwoods, especially pink ones. Sadly this year we had to pull up 3 old dogwoods that were very unhealthy. They were Korean dogwoods (Kousas) and even though they looked terrible, I still hate getting rid of a tree. Lovely hub on a lovely tree.

  • Patsybell profile image
    Author

    Patsy Bell Hobson 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    Thank you for your kind words. Your best bet is to buy one from the nursery or garden center, the root system will be stronger. In Southern OK, make sure your new tree gets plenty of afternoon shade.

  • sgbrown profile image

    Sheila Brown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

    Love your hub! I used to see dogwood here in the countryside, but haven't seen any in a while. I'm not sure what has happened to them. I will have to go "looking" for them and see if I can find some saplings that I can take home. I love their beautiful blooms! Your pictures are just beautiful!

  • Patsybell profile image
    Author

    Patsy Bell Hobson 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    MsDora, I wish you could see the native dogwoods lighting up the forests before the they fill with every color of green. Thank you for reading my hubs. I always look forward to your comments.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for the beautiful stories and the interesting information on the dogwood. The pictures are great too. Pleasurable read!

  • Patsybell profile image
    Author

    Patsy Bell Hobson 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    MyMastiffPuppies Dogwoods make me think "garden party". I appreciate you kind words and support.

  • Patsybell profile image
    Author

    Patsy Bell Hobson 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    mary615 dogwoods always look like an outdoor celebration. I enjoy your comments. Thank you for the support.

  • Patsybell profile image
    Author

    Patsy Bell Hobson 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    Faith Reaper If there is anyone who can make my day, it is you. Thanks for the kind words and support.

  • Patsybell profile image
    Author

    Patsy Bell Hobson 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    poetryman6969 Dogwood trees bring joy to my heart. I'll always try to find rood to plant a dogwood. Thanks for your kind comments.

  • MyMastiffPuppies profile image

    MyMastiffPuppies 3 years ago

    Love the dogwood tree! Always had one growing in our backyard as a child and missing seeing those beautiufl blooms every spring! Thanks for sharing.

  • poetryman6969 profile image

    poetryman6969 3 years ago

    Love the beautiful blossoms and the colorful history.

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

    Oh, reading this Hub about Dogwoods make me homesick for the hills of Georgia! These trees were everywhere where I grew up, and I do miss them.

    Beautiful Hub and lovely photos. Voted UP, shared here and will Pin to my Tree board.

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

    Oh, my favorite of favorite trees, the flowering dogwood! Growing up, our entire backyard was filled with these gorgeous trees and they bring back fond memories of growing up. I do not have any in my yard now, and I need to remedy that soon.

    This is such a beautiful hub with a great layout, glorious photos, and interesting facts.

    Thank you for this superb hub, Patsy.

    Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

    Peace and blessings always

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