The flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), which is the state tree of Virginia and Missouri, is a popular ornamental tree. Native to North America, the flowering dogwood is an adaptable tree that grows well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9.
Dogwood blooms consist of a cluster of small flowers surrounded by petal-like bracts.
A small, deciduous tree that grows to approximately 20 to 30 feet in height, the flowering dogwood is a single- or multi-trunked tree with a rounded crown and drooping lower branches. The dogwood typically blooms from March to April, bearing showy, white blossoms consisting of four petal-like bracts surrounding a cluster of tiny, yellow flowers. The blooms are followed by clusters of green berries that turn bright red in fall. Autumn foliage ranges from scarlet to brownish-red.
The flowering dogwood commonly grows in the forest understory throughout the eastern United States. Adaptable to many soil conditions, it thrives in well-drained, acidic, sandy loam soil. According to the Oklahoma Forestry Service, the tree prefers partial shade, but it tolerates sunny locations if kept well-irrigated.
Importance to Wildlife
According to the U.S. Forest Service, the berries produced by flowering dogwood trees are high in fat and calcium content and are an important food source for wildlife. Numerous animals, including bears, raccoons, deer and many species of birds, eat the berries.