Cornus florida, commonly known as the flowering dogwood tree, is the state tree of Virginia and is found throughout most of the continental United States. As its name suggests, the flowering dogwood is most easily identified by its flowers, but knowledgeable enthusiasts can also identify it by leaf type.
Shape and Size
The flowering dogwood tree has ovate, or oval-shaped, leaves. The leaves are fuller toward the bottom of the stem than they are at the tip. The outer edge of dogwood leaves is classified as "entire," which means that the edges are smooth and unbroken. The tips of the leaves are acute (slightly pointed). Full-grown leaves are usually between 4 and 8 inches long.
The veins of the flowering dogwood leaf are easily visible on the leaf. The veins are classified as arcuate, which means that they are bent in the shape of an arc or bow. They run nearly parallel with the edges of the leaf. The secondary veins branch off of the middle vein in a pattern that alternates between left and right.
The arrangement of dogwood leaves on the branch is called "opposite," which means that leaves occur in pairs, one on each side, along the stem. They are classified as "simple" because there is only one leaf per stem. Leaves are arranged upon the tree so that the crown, or silhouette of the tree, is round. The leaves are moderately dense upon the tree.
The leaves of the flowering dogwood tree are medium green, and the veins are a much lighter green. The undersides are a pale green. In the fall, dogwood leaves become red, ranging from bright red to maroon, depending on local weather and climate conditions.
The flowering dogwood is classified as a broadleaf tree because it has wide, flat leaves. Flowering dogwood trees are also deciduous, which means that they lose their leaves at the end of every autumn.