Friday, November 6, 2009

Dogwood is a tree; Dagwood is a Sandwich?

According to Vedel and Lange, the word dogwood comes from dagwood, from the use of the slender stems of very hard wood for making daggers or skewers.
Cornus florida is our eastern white-flowering native Dogwood tree. Cornus florida grows wild, at woods' edge and in high shade.

Recent pics of dogwood seeds.

The red seeds are easily sprouted, either by giving a period of chill before planting, or my informal method, which is to push a fresh seed into the ground where I wish it to grow and give it a couple of years. Birds plant many dogwoods, dropping the seed which has passed through the bird's digestive system to prepare it to germinate quickly onto the ground beside a fence or under a tall tree. There are many online sources which give detailed instructions for cold stratification and sprouting.

Dogwoods bloom with Azaleas in late March, early April here. These dogwoods are from seeds.

The Dogwood (Cornus florida) and its inflorescence are the state tree and the state flower for the U.S. Commonwealth of Virginia. Dogwood is also the state tree of Missouri and the state flower of North Carolina.

This is one of two dogwoods that my MIL planted 50 years ago.

Horticulturists recommend buying dogwood trees rather than planting seeds because of fungal diseases to which dogwoods are prone. If you want pink or red dogwoods, buy a grafted tree.

Legend of the Crucifixion:
" Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. It will be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross--two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there shall be nail prints, brown with the stain of a rusty nail and stained with blood, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember."

A seedling dogwood that I moved from beside the pumphouse.

Late note:
I stand corrected.
Red twig Dogwood is Cornus stolonifera (sometimes listed as C. sericea). Red osier dogwood is native to most of northern and western North America.

Cornus mas is Cornelian Cherry, yellow flowering dogwood.

Cornus alba is the Tatarian dogwood with native habitat from Siberia and Manchuria to North Korea.
C. sanguinea, bloodtwig dogwood is native to Europe.

Thanks, Helen, for calling my attention to my error.


  1. I don't think I've heard that legend before. Now, I'll have to go look for pictures.

  2. I do love the dogwoods. We live in a grove of mature ones. I have only seen a few sprout. I try pushing some into the ground.

  3. Oh how I would love to grow dogwood. They are so beautiful. They just don't do too good here. It is so nice to get to enjoy yours.

  4. I miss Dogwoods, thanks for sharing!

  5. I have been so impressed with the fall color of the dogwood this fall. Usually we get too much rain and the leaves get powdery mildew and look icky. This year they are fiery red and the berries are so abundant!
    ps- Virginia state flower is the Dogwood as well.

  6. Hi, Nell Jean, I've just spent an enjoyable afternoon doing a mammoth catch-up of your blog ... I've been out of cyber space for a while due to a crashed hard drive. Great photos, as always, and entertaining and informative narrative. Love the hyacinth post. Very interested to see where you are planted. Oh, and I'm definitely NOT adding music to my new blog. Pamela

  7. I wintersowed many dogwoods last fall. They germinated great. I ignored them too long and lost them all. I'm going to try again tomorrow. I think I'll plant some seeds naturally too.

  8. Many years ago, we lived in South Carolina and I remember clearly how the dogwoods and Azaleas would all be blooming in April. Seemed unreal to me.

  9. I am a huge fan of this genus with a penchant for C kousa, but my all time favourite is C. alternifolia 'Argentea' - pagoda, layered like a wedding cake with tiny leaves edged in pure white! More people need to grow this gorgeous genus!

  10. Nell, another plant we share. Yes, it is our state tree. I have two in my yard. This year they got an especially bright burgundy color.

    Neither of mine are as large as yours and the one by the drive was damaged by the ice storm and was planted too close to the road but I can't bring myself to cut it down!

  11. Hi NJ, thanks for the informative post. I considered calling myself dogwood instead of catmint for a while - now I'm so relieved I didn't - I don't want to be associated with blood and nails, etc! I have one dogwood which i adore, but don't know which one it is - cornus something ... but i fear that is not helpful for id. cheers, catmint

  12. It's so interesting to see that you can grow them from seed. Your seedling picture is the size of one I just transplanted in my yard, altough we bought it at that size. I've never had either of mine produce much fruit. They are very expensive at nurseries here.

  13. I enjoyed the information on the dogwood. It is such a beautiful tree. Never knew about the legend. I'm impressed you've grown it from seed.

  14. I know that Dogwoods are very prevalent in southern areas of the US, but we don't have them in the west, so I know very little about them. They are so beautiful, especially the one planted by your mother-in-law.

  15. These spring photos are making me wish for that season! Love the dogwoods ~ I grew up in Maryland and in Virginia so we used to have them around in both places. In Colorado I don't see them as much. I should figure out if one will grow here.

  16. So the harmless bumbling hard working father in my childhood cartoons - was named for a dagger!

  17. Hi Nell, Is your pink lettering new? It's gorgeous, as is your header photo. I have a few of the red twig dogwood shrubs. I cut them back so no flowers but the variegated foliage is yummy. Your MIL's dogwood is FABULOUS! And your seedlings hold much promise. Don't you love planting trees?

  18. I love dogwoods. They're such a perfect, delicate, understory tree.

    I did have a SUPPOSEDLY dwarf red twig cornus at one point. It ended up being way to big for it's spot, and did not have red twigs in the winter so i had to let it go.

  19. Nell Jean, I envy you zoned-in folks your Cornus florida -- it's borderline hardy in Toronto, but demands better soil than I can give it.

    However, I've never seen Cornus mas described as "redtwig" -- C. mas is the "Cornelian cherry". Red twigs are usually seen with Cornus sanguinea (tree) or Cornus sericea (shrub).

  20. I love Dogwoods (and Dagwood sandwiches)! These are beautiful. I planted a very young Cornus Mas this year and hope to plant a Pagoda Dogwood next spring ... Cornus Florida might not make it through some of our winters. Thanks for this post!


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