Flowering Dogwood – Cornus florida

Flowering Dogwood – Cornus florida
Family Cornaceae – Dogwood family

Dogwoods are some of the earliest spring flowering trees.

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Cloud 9 Flowering Dogwood
Two lovely 'Cloud 9' Dogwoods light up a forest glade
Plants in the genus Cornus are commonly called dogwoods. Most are deciduous trees or shrubs but a few are evergreen. Dogwoods are well-known native plants throughout the eastern U.S. and are among the first trees to flower in springtime.

The composition of the family Cornaceae has been a matter of much controversy among taxonomists for many years. Many sources, i.e. Flora of China treats the family as consisting of a single genus, Cornus, [1] while others include 17 or more genera. Cornus L. sensu lato consists of 55 species that are mostly trees and shrubs and rarely perennial herbs with woody rhizomes [2].

The USDA Plants Database includes Cornus, Aucuba, Campotheca, and Nyssa (tupelo) genera in the family.

The hard wood of several species of Cornus is used for making farming tools. The fruit of some species is used for food or as a source of industrial oil. Cornus mas is cultivated in China for medicinal uses. Many species are widely cultivated as ornamentals, e.g., C. alba, C. canadensis, C. controversa, C. florida Linnaeus, C. kousa, C. mas, C. nuttallii Audubon, and C. stolonifera. [1]

Flowering Dogwood flowers

The fleshy fruits of dogwoods are very valuable to wildlife, particularly in the Northeast. The fruit ripens in late summer, and besides being available through the fall, some of the berries may persist on the plants into the winter months.

Flowering Dogwood in bloom

Wildlife browse the twigs, foliage, and fruits. Birds known to eat the fruit include: wood ducks, eastern bluebirds, cardinals, catbirds, longtailed chats, crows, purple finches, yellow-shafted flickers, crested flycatchers, grosbeaks, kingbirds, American magpies, mockingbirds, crested mynah birds, orioles, robins, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, European starlings, tree swallows, scarlet tanagers, brown thrashers, thrushes, vireos, pine warblers, cedar waxwings, and woodpeckers.  The shrubs provide excellent nesting habitat for songbirds [3].

Flowering Dogwood in summer

1. Xiang Qiuyun (向秋云 Jenny Xiang); David E. Boufford, Flora of China 14: 206–221. 2005 "Cornaceae"
2. Chuanzhu Fan and Jenny Qui-Yun Xiang, American Journal of Botany, Phylogenetics Within Cornus
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