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TREES & Plants

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering dogwood is a small woodland understory tree, native throughout most of the eastern United States.  Showy white, red or pink flowering bracts appear before the leaves in early spring. Dark green summer foliage turns a brilliant reddish purple in fall.

Botanical name: 
Cornus florida
All Common Names: 
Flowering Dogwood
Family (English): 
Dogwood
Family (Botanic): 
Cornaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (foliage falls off)
Native Locale: 
  • Illinois
  • North America
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 3
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Growth Rate: 
  • Medium
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial shade (4-6 hrs indirect light daily)
Tolerances: 
  • Occasional drought
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Pink
  • Red
  • White
Size Range: 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Multi-stemmed
  • Rounded
  • Spreading
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Mixed border
  • Patio/sidewalk
Time of Year: 
  • Mid spring
  • Late spring
  • Early fall
More Information: 

Size and Form

15 to 20 feet high and wide; rounded to spreading form

Tree & Plant Care

Tends to develop problems in heavy clay soil.
Prefers acid soil and  gets chlorotic symptoms (pale green leaves) in high pH soils.
Shallow root system benefits with a few inches of mulch to moderate soil temperature.   It is also beneficial to shelter the plant from wind.
Considered borderline hardy in the Chicago area.

Disease, pests and problems

Poorly drained soils, wind, salt, drought stress  predispose plant to insect and disease problems.
Borers and cankers are possible problems.
Anthracose (Discula) is a very serious problem is some parts of the United States.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 9
Native to much of the eastern United States.
Common in wooded areas.

Attracts birds & butterflies

Birds are attracted to the  ripened fruits.

Bark color and texture 

Mature bark is gray-brown and blocky and when shed it reveals a dark inner bark.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, simple, rounded  leaves with a pointed tip. Pale green with wavy leaf margins. Veins grow toward tip of leaf with out running to the edge.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Flowers appear large because of the 4 white bracts (modified flowers). True flowers are clustered in center of bracts.
Flower buds are a small button-like bud at the tips of branches. Leaf buds are flattened and reddish color.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Clusters of bright red fruit  ripen in July- August.