Flowering Dogwood – Cornus florida

Flowering Dogwood - pink flowered cultiver
Flowering Dogwood – pink flowered cultiver

In the eastern part of North America, from southern Maine in the north, to northern Florida in the south, west to Kansas, Texas and Illinois this small understory tree grows with abandon. It has been placed on the protected list in many states. In early April the trees bloom in the wild with white bracts surrounding the small, inconspicuous flowers. In cultivation the colors range from white through pink and sometimes almost true red.

During the time of the American Revolution certain medicines were hard to come by. One of which was Peruvian bark, and Dogwood bark was easily substituted for it. It has proven effective when the Peruvian bark has not worked for malaria like symptoms. In parts of Mexico they use cornine in medicine which is found in Dogwood bark.

A tea substitute can be made from the bark, and the fruit can be eaten when the seed is removed. Mixed with other fruit and mashed can be made into jams.

The wood is hard, heavy, and strong, it has been used to make shuttlecocks, tool handles, wheel cogs, mauls, hayforks, and pulleys. It has on occasion been used to make golf club heads, roller skate wheels, jeweler’s blocks, knitting needles, and woodcut blocks. Native Americans employed the roots to make a red dye. And a black ink was made from the bark mixed with gum arabic and iron sulfate.

It is the state flower of Virginia. It is also the state tree for Missouri. Fayetteville, N.C. has an annual Dogwood Festival in April

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