Flowering Dogwood

Cornus florida
Cornaceae (dogwoods)

A beautiful shrub to small tree with a straggling, spreading crown.

Leaves are opposite, simple, egg-shaped, 3–5 inches long, dark green, with slightly wavy edges.

Bark is dark gray to brown with thin, squarish plates.

Twigs are flexible, slender, reddish-gray to purplish, or greenish with red dots, hairy, with flower buds terminal. Leaf buds are compressed and oval.

Flowers are small, in clusters of 25–30, surrounded by 4 large, white (sometimes pink) petal-like bracts, and appear in early spring before the leaves. Bracts are 1¼–2½ inches long and are notched at the tip.

Fruits are scarlet, egg-shaped berries (drupes), ½ inch long, in clusters of 2–6, appearing August–November.

At maturity, to 40 feet tall; to 35 feet wide.
Habitat and conservation: 
Found along wooded slopes, ravines, along bluffs, upland ridges, successional fields; less common on glades, valleys and low ground; prefers well-drained, acid-based soils and shady locations.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Mostly in the Ozarks, but also present north of the Missouri River, particularly in the eastern half of the state.
Common, especially in the Ozarks.
Human connections: 
Flowering dogwood and its many cultivars are favorite small, spring-flowering trees for landscaping. Historically, the plant has been used to make inks and dyes as well as medicine. The wood has been used for golf club heads and even skewers for cooking.
Ecosystem connections: 
The fruits are eaten by squirrels and white-tailed deer and are a preferred food for wild turkey and at least 28 other species of birds, including quail. As an understory and forest border tree, dogwood provides cover for many mammals and birds.
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