The dogwood tree, of the genus Cornus, produces vibrant flowers that make it an ideal landscape specimen. The United States claims 11 different species of native dogwood, a tree that was planted and nurtured by both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The wood of the dogwood is quite hard and is used in the production of golf club heads.
The dogwood tree is classified as a member of the genus Cornus, which includes a number of shrubs and trees and their cultivars. Some of the most common Cornus species include the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), the kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) and Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii). All are native to North America. The dogwood is a deciduous tree that drops its leaves in the fall and produces a small white or yellow flower.
Perhaps the most commonly planted is the flowering dogwood, renowned for its year-round beauty and large blossoms of 3 to 5 inches. The native habitat of this species stretches from New England to Florida and all the way west to Texas. It thrives best in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness zones 5 through 9. The flowering dogwood typically grows to between 15 and 30 feet in height with a trunk diameter of approximately 6 to 12 inches.
The pagoda dogwood usually grows to less than 20 feet in height and appreciates extremely rich soil, preferably that found near riverbeds and other water and nutrition runoff sources. The tree is extremely sensitive to drought and draws its name from the horizontal branches that bring to mind the structure of a pagoda. The flowers of the pagoda dogwood normally open in May or June, with the fruit a dark purple or black drupe that ripens in August.
The native habitat of the Pacific dogwood is the mountainous regions of the Northwest, stretching through southern California. The tree grow best in USDA Hardiness zones 7 through 10. A characteristic of the Pacific dogwood is its tendency to produce a second blossoming during the growing season. This flowering in the fall adds to the tree’s aesthetic pleasure and value.
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