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Cornus florida

Common Name(s):
Flowering dogwood
'Cherokee Princess' - white, 'Sweetwater' - red , 'Cherokee Chief' - red, 'Pygmy' - dwarf, 'Appalachian Spring' - white, 'Rubra' - pink, 'Cherokee Daybreak' - variegated foliage, 'Cherokee Sunset' -variegated foliage, 'Cherokee Brave' - red, 'Cloud 9' - white
Native Plants, Trees

Cornus florida, commonly known as flowering dogwood, is a small deciduous tree that typically grows 15-30’ tall with a low-branching, broadly-pyramidal but somewhat flat-topped habit. It arguably may be the most beautiful of the native American flowering trees. It is native from Maine to southern Ontario to Illinois to Kansas south to Florida, Texas, and Mexico. It is the state tree of Missouri and Virginia. This plant has bright red fruits that are bitter and inedible to humans (some authors say poisonous) but are loved by birds. The fruits mature in late summer to early fall and may persist until late in the year. The common name of dogwood is in probable reference to an old-time use of hard slender stems from this tree for making skewers once known as dags or dogs.

Regions:  Mountain. Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains

  Leaves:  Fall             Blooms:  Early spring           Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Fall

Seed: Drupe

Play Value: Wildlife Enhancement

Wildlife Value:  It is a host plant for the Azure butterfly.  Butterflies nectar on the blooms.  Its fruits are eaten by songbirds, ruffed grouse, quail, wild turkey, chipmunks, black bear, foxes, white-tailed deer, skunks, and squirrels. Members of the genus Cornus support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Gonandrena) fragilisAndrena (Gonandrena) integraand Andrena (Gonandrena) platypariaThis plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  The Flowering dogwood, when stressed, is susceptible to a rather large number of disease problems, the most serious of which is dogwood anthracnose. This disease has caused considerable devastation in parts of the eastern U.S. The plants are also susceptible to powdery mildew, leaf spot, canker, root rot and leaf and twig blight. Stressed trees also become vulnerable to borers. Leaf miner and scale are less serious potential insect pests. The foliage is browsed by white-tailed deer.

Diseases of Dogwood

15-30 ft.
The flowering dogwood blooms in early spring (April) shortly after, but usually overlapping, the bloom period of the redbuds. The true dogwood flowers are actually tiny, yellowish green and insignificant, being compacted into button-like clusters. However, each flower cluster is surrounded by four showy, white, petal-like bracts which open flat, giving the appearance of a single, large, 3-4” diameter, 4-petaled, white flower.
The Flowering dogwood is easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It prefers moist, organically rich, acidic soils in part shade. It will benefit from a 2-4” mulch which will help keep roots cool and moist in summer.
Semi-rounded top; horizontal low branches creating a layered look
Partial shade; moderate to well-drained soil
White flowers in spring; red berries in fall
15-20 ft.
Growth Rate:
Slow to moderate
The Flowering dogwood has oval, opposite, simple dark green leaves (3-6” long) that turn attractive shades of red in fall.
play, cpp, shade, small tree, understory, playground, host plant, wildlife, deciduous, tsc, bees, fall color, birds, nectar, pollinator, specialized bees, butterflies, native, shelter, children’s garden, showy

NCCES plant id: 471

Cornus florida berries Cornus florida fruit
Kristine Paulus, CC BY - 2.0
Cornus florida Understory tree
ConanTheLibrarian, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Cornus florida leaves Fall color
Scadwell, CC BY-NC-2.0
Cornus florida Fall color and berries
James Gaither, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Cornus florida Fruits
Martin LaBar, CC BY-NC-2.0
Cornus florida Bark
Mollsie, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Cornus florida Cornus florida
Texas Eagle, CC BY-NC-2.0
Cornus florida Cornus florida
Lucy Bradley, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Cornus florida Cornus florida
Lucy Bradley, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Cornus florida Cornus florida
Lucy Bradley, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Cornus florida Tree in bloom
Paul Cooper, CC BY-NC - 4.0