Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Cornus florida L.
- Family: Dogwood (Cornaceae)
- Flowering: April-May
- Field Marks: The flowers of this dogwood are subtended by four large, white, notched
bracts. The opposite leaves may be as much as 6 inches long.
- Habitat: Woods.
- Habit: Small to medium tree to 40 feet tall; trunk diameter rarely more than 2 feet; crown rounded.
- Bark: Brown, divided into squarish plates at maturity.
- Twigs: Slender, greenish to light brown, smooth, often curving upward at the tip; leaf scars opposite; bundle traces 3; leaf buds slender and pointed; flower buds flat and biscuit-shaped.
- Leaves: Opposite, simple, elliptic to ovate, pointed at the tip, tapering or rounded at the base, up to 6 inches long, the veins deeply impressed, the edges without teeth, pale and usually finely hairy on the lower surface; leaf stalks up to 3/4 inch long.
- Flowers: Several crowded together in a yellow-green cluster, each cluster subtended by 4 large, white, petal-like bracts notched at the tip.
- Sepals: 4, green, minute.
- Petals: 4, yellow-green, free from each other, minute, up to 1/4 inch long.
- Stamens: 4.
- Pistils: Ovary inferior, smooth.
- Fruits: Berries ovoid, bright red, shiny, up to 1/2 inch long, with mealy flesh and 1-2 seeds.
- Notes: Flowering dogwood is a popular ornamental because of its showy bracts. The fruits are eaten by squirrels and raccoons, although they are poisonous to humans. In the past, the bark has been used for fevers. A virus, as yet uncontrollable, is devastating to this species.
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