Flowering Dogwood

24 May

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), deciduous tree or large shrub; slow growth to 12 – 15 feet in height with a narrower spread, large white or pink bracts surrounded by flowers in spring, bright green foliage turns red in the fall, light shade, rich soil, summer water, prune to shape after bloom.

All dogwoods offer attractive foliage and blossoms; some have spectacular fruit or winter bark. Leaves of many types turn brilliant colors in fall. What appear to be flower petals in many dogwoods are actually bracts—petal-like modified leaves. These surround the inconspicuous true flowers.

Cornus florida 'Rubra'

Cornus florida 

Native to eastern U.S. Trees tend to branch low, the branches building up in horizontal layers (with gray twigs pointing upward at branch ends). Mature trees–often wider than tall–have a gently rounded to flat crown.

Small flower clusters are surrounded by four roundish, 2–4-n. bracts with notched tips. The species has white bracts, but selections offer bracts in pink shades to nearly red (as well as white). Bracts form in fall; tips may dry out in harsh, dry winters, preventing inflorescence from opening fully. Flowers almost cover the tree in midspring before the leaves expand. Oval, 2–4-in.-long leaves are bright green above, lighter green beneath; turn glowing red in fall. Clusters of small, oval scarlet fruit last into winter or until birds eat them.

Subject to anthracnose, a fungus that can cause leaf damage, stem cankers, and decline or death of the tree. Avoid injury to bark from mowers and string trimmers; try to keep the tree healthy with adequate feeding, watering, and air circulation.

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