Native Plant Spotlight – Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood is another brilliant tree that defines the spring landscape in Western PA.  There are several cultivars, most of which have white flowers but there are several that bloom in pink.  

At maturity Cornus Florida (dogwood) tops out at about 33 feet.  The mature trunk is about a foot wide and the canopy can be wider than the tree’s height.  It is a relatively fast growing tree and provides year round interest in the landscape.  We’ve already mentioned the spring flowers.  These blooms give way to red fruit in the winter, which provides food for birds.  The fall foliage is always vibrant and usually red or purple.  

This tree’s native range is basically all of the eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida, and westward to Texas.  This tree is medicinal in traditional Native American medicine.  It was used as an antimalarial and contains quinine. It’s hard wood is useful for making things such as wooden golf club heads and tool handles.  This tree was loved and planted by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington at their estates. Another historic fact:  As a reciprocal gift for the Cherry Trees bestowed on our capital from Japan, we gifted the Japanese Flowering Dogwood.  All but one of the Dogwoods died in subsequent years, yet in 2012, on the 100th anniversary of the tree gifting, the US sent Japan 3,000 Dogwoods.  Hopefully these trees will contribute to the Japanese landscape the same beauty that cherry blossoms have given to Washington DC.   

What’s not to love?  A tree that offers year round visual interest.  A semi-fast grower that tops out at only 30ish feet.  A native tree that provides food and shelter for wildlife?  Flowering Dogwood is a great tree to add to any landscape!

Published by scottmeneely

Gardener passionate about organic gardening, fresh food, sustainable landscaping, home brewing, and much more! Our nursery also includes my wife and 2 kids. We work together, learn together, and travel together. My wife is Panamanian and we try to grow lots of good Latin American ingedients. We live in Baldwin, Pennsylvania in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.

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