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Encyclopedia > Flowering Dogwood
Flowering dogwood
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Cornales
Family: Cornaceae
Genus: Cornus
Species: florida
Binomial name
Cornus florida L.

The flowering dogwood (Cornus florida or Benthamidia florida) is a showy small tree native to eastern and southeastern North America. It is one of the most popular of all small ornamental flowering trees. Like most dogwoods, it has opposite, simple leaves. The tree is extremely showy when in flower, but what people assume to be the flowers are actually showy bracts below the cluster of nondescript yellow-green flowers.

Flowering dogwood in bloom
Flowering dogwood in bloom

While most of the wild trees are white-flowering, some selected cultivars of this tree also have pink flowers, some even almost a true red. They typically bloom in early April in the southern part of their range, up through late April in the northern or higher-elevation areas. The similar Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), native to Asia, bloom about a month later. All dogwoods produce clusters of green berries which mature to a bright red in the autumn, and are favored by birds.

Pink-flowering dogwood
Pink-flowering dogwood

Flowering dogwood does best horticulturally when it has shade from the west but has good morning sun. It does not do well when exposed to intense heat sources such as adjacent parking lots or air conditioning compressors. While the anthracnose fungus has decimated many wild stocks of flowering dogwood, domestic landscape plantings have generally not been affected because of better air circulation and less humid conditions. The Asian species is resistant to this disease.



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