Cornus florida L. - Flowering Dogwood

Cornus florida plant

Family - Cornaceae

Stems - A tree to +/-10m tall. Bark with square fissures. Twigs deep green to red, with malpighian hairs, opposite.

Cornus florida barkBark.

Cornus florida twigWinter twig.

Leaves - Opposite, petiolate. Petioles to -1cm long, pubescent as stem and sparse pilose. Blades ovate, entire, acute to acuminate, appressed pubescent above, densely appressed pubescent below with pilose hairs on the veins below, to +/-13cm long, +/-7cm broad, entire. Veins of leaves impressed adaxially, expressed abaxially. A silky thread is present when the leaves are pulled apart lengthwise.

Cornus florida leaves

Inflorescence - Single pedunculate flower cluster from between leaves of new seasons growth. Flowers appearing with or just before the leaves. Peduncle to 3.5cm long, densely pubescent as the stem, light green or with some red at base. Flowers +/-20 per cluster.

Cornus florida inflorescence

Flowers - White (sometimes pink) bracts subtending the flowers to +3cm long, 2.5cm broad, obcordate. Floral tube densely pubescent as stem, to 3mm long, 1.5mm in diameter, 5-lobed. Sepals 4, acute, .6-.7mm long. Petals 4, yellow-green, glabrous, 4mm long, pubescent as stem internally, glabrous externally. Stamens 4, exserted, erect, alternating with the petals. Filaments glabrous, whitish-green, 2-2.5mm long. Anthers 1.2mm long. Style green, 2.1mm long, pubescent as stem. Ovary inferior, 2-locular. Placentation axile.

Cornus florida budFlower bud.

Cornus florida flowersFlowers and bracts.

Cornus florida flowersActual flowers.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Wooded slopes, ravines, bluffs, ridges, thickets, typically in acid soils.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This striking tree can be found growing wild in the lower 1/2 of Missouri. It is, however, widely cultivated throughout the rest of the state. A form with pink flowers, form rubra (Weston) Palm. & Steyerm., can be seen frequently in cultivation but less so in the wild. Here it is:

Cornus florida rosea
Traditionally, the plant was used for many ailments including diarrhea and malaria. The twigs were often chewed to help whiten the teeth and were the forerunner of the modern day toothbrush.

Photographs taken at the Noblett Lake Recreational Area, Douglas County, MO., 4-15-01, in Brown Summit, NC, 4-8-02, at Reform Conservation Area, Callaway County, MO., 3-11-04, and in Columbia, MO., 4-21-07.


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