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Native Trees: The Flowering Dogwood

Updated on December 1, 2011

The Native Flowering Dogwood

Planting native trees, like the Flowering Dogwood (cornus florida), and native plants, is not only easier to maintain, but is beneficial to the animals that rely on them.

Planning to move to North Carolina, I researched the state flower. It turns out to be the dogwood - one of my favorite flowers and flowering trees. The tree is one of the first to bloom here in New York City. (see photo)

Below is a Q & A list about the Flowering Dogwood:

Where does the tree naturally occur?

The tree naturally occurs in the eastern United States ranging from Massachusetts to Michigan and Ontario, south to eastern Texas and Mexico, and east to central Florida. It grows well in a variety of habitats, generally in fertile, moist, well drained soil. The flowering dogwood is often found as an understory component in mixed hardwood forests, and at the edge of pine forests.

When did the dogwood become the state flower of NC?

Considered the landscape tree for all four seasons, the flower of the dogwood was designated the official State Flower of North Carolina in 1941 - by the General Assembly. The beautiful flowering dogwood tree is one of the most ubiquitous trees in North Carolina and is found growing throughout the state - from the mountains to the coastline.

Is the tree known by other names?

Yes, the ornamental dogwood tree is also known as the American Dogwood and is a member of the Cornaceae family.

Can you describe the tree?

The tree is deciduous, and considered a small tree, growing from 15-40 feet in height and is usually greater in width than in height. It grows best in partial shade in the south but can tolerate full sun in the north.

Can you describe the flowers?

The flower is made up of four petal-like bracts surrounding a cluster of tiny yellow flowers. Each of the bracts is about 1-2 inches long with an obovate shape - generally with a cleft at the tip of each bract. Dogwood flowers appear in early spring (including here in New York City) and last into the summer. Most often a brilliant snow white, the dogwood flower can also be shades of pink and sometimes red. The flowers are among the earliest of the spring bloomers - and are usually in full bloom for 2 to 3 weeks. Bright red football shaped fruits follow the flowers and can often last into the winter.

How is the Flowering Dogwood used in landscaping?

As one of the most popular ornamental trees, the flowering dogwood is often used in landscaping as a framing tree or a background tree. Also the flowering dogwood has a dense crown and provides a great deal of shade The tree is small in stature and can be used in small yards. Being small they can also be planted beneath large oaks and pines.

How is it beneficial to nature?

Many species of birds enjoy the red fruits. Also squirrels, and many wildlife species rely on the red fruits as well.

Note: A fungus disease has been affecting the flowering dogwood and was first discovered in the 1970s. The disease has spread throughout much of the dogwood's range by the 1990s. Although the disease can kill a flowering dogwood in 2 to 3 years, dogwoods growing out in the open with sufficient air circulation and sunlight are usually not affected. There seems to be no problem with the dogwoods here in NYC despite the pollution.

For a list of other native trees, and more, see links below:

The flowering dogwood
The flowering dogwood


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    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 5 years ago from New York City

      It sounds so lovely! Even here where I live in NYC we have flowering dogwoods which are the earliest bloomers. It's a dense bloomer and offers privacy. I think the only thing you need to decide is whether you want pink or white and if they grow well in your environment.

      I just read the USDA is going to have to change their planting/hardiness zone maps because of warming patterns.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      The list lady,

      I am considering planting a row of dogwoods along my property line under the larger trees. I wish to shield my view and add some color and privacy. The row will probably be five trees. Your thoughts? Suggestions?

    • CountryCityWoman profile image

      CountryCityWoman 6 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

      Oh love this tree. One of my favorites. When I lived in the suburbs in NY - it was the first to bloom - they were all over the neighborhood - just so lovely.

      Maybe it is so popular and beautiful because it is native. Makes sense. Thanks a lot for the hub and rated up!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Love love love the dogwood - one of my favorite tress - and yes we have them all over my neighborhood in NYC and yes, they are the first to bloom in the spring and thrill us all.

      What a beauty. I'm glad it's native.

      Rated way up!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 6 years ago from Georgia

      Are you really planning to move to North Carolina? The few parts I've visited are really nice. I have always considered the Flowering Dogwood to be a stunning tree. Rated this hub up!

    • reddog1027 profile image

      reddog1027 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Tons of info on my favorite tree. Thanks

    • quemacoco profile image

      quemacoco 6 years ago

      great post. thanks for the info. love trees, my favorite holiday is arbor day