Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) is a small understory tree native to the Eastern United States. Growing 15-30 feet in height and spread, it is quite showy in spring and fall. Flowering Dogwood is appropriate for USDA hardiness zones 5-9.
Flowers: Flowering Dogwoods bloom in spring before the leaves emerge. Four showy, petal-like white bracts surround a cluster of insignificant yellow flowers.
Fruit: Glossy oval red fruits are ½ inch long and borne in clusters. Botanically a drupe, each fruit consists of soft flesh surrounding a hard stone that contains one seed.
Fall Foliage: The dark green simple leaves turn a dramatic red-purple in fall.
Ecological Value: The seed, fruit, flowers, twigs, bark and leaves are all used as food by various birds and mammals.
Cultural Uses: Historically, the hard wood was made into jewelry boxes and golf club heads. Medicinally, its uses ranged from colic to malaria. It is a great specimen for use in the home landscape and near utility lines where its small size (20 feet in height) makes it manageable.
Scientific Name: The genus name comes from the Latin word cornu meaning horn, possibly referring to the strength and density of the wood. The specific epithet comes from the Latin flos-meaning flower, in reference to its attractive spring flowers.
Interesting Fact: Native Americans planted their crops, particularly corn, when the Flowering Dogwoods were in bloom.
Location at Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Flowering Dogwood trees are native to this area and hundreds of specimens are located throughout the Garden. An example of in-situ flora (plants found in place) being incorporated into the Garden’s designs and plant collections, look for their lacy blooming branches in late April to early May.