Cornus Florida L.
Virginia dogwood, Florida dogwood, flowering dogwood, white cornel, arrowwood, St. Peter’s crown, corona de San Pedro
Spring brings the blooming of dogwoods’ cross-shaped white or pink flowers, gladdening many a heart. Some consider it among the most spectacular of native flowering trees. No surprise, then, that Virginia chose the dogwood as its state flower.
It is a member of the Cornaceae family, whose members are native to Europe, East Asia and North America.
The deciduous trees we see here have red fruit and scarlet foliage in fall, which only adds to its visual value.
It has had practical value, too. Its wood has been used to make shuttles for weaving, spools, small pulleys, mallet heads and more. And its bark, when dried, was once used as a substitute for quinine to treat fevers. Its fibrous twigs were chewed, as they were said to whiten teeth. Some tribes used the roots to make a scarlet dye.
This part-shade and shade lover likes thickets, woods, streams, riverbanks and more. It can withstand the cold of winter, but also thrives in warmer to hot climates found all the way south into Florida.
It is of special value to native bees, which are attracted to its flowers.
(Information and photo source: Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center; Julie Makin photographer. More information from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Britannica.com.)