Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Will the Real Dogwood Please Stand Up?

Real Dogwood depends on the location of your garden.

The Cornus group includes the following:

Red twig Dogwood is Cornus Stolonifera or C. sericea. Red Osier Dogwood is native to much of northern and western North America.
Cornus alba, Tatarian Dogwood with native habitat from Siberia and Manchuria to North Korea.
C. sanguinea, Bloodtwig Dogwood is native to Europe.
 Cornus mas Yellow Flowering Dogwood or Cornelian Cherry. There are others.

White Flowering Dogwood that blooms in the woods here as well as in home gardens is Cornus florida, native to the Eastern USA.

A small dogwood, bird-planted, deer-topped; determined.

Bird-planted dogwood in front of a gate.

Legend of the Dogwood:
Never shall the dogwood tree again grow large enough to make a cross. It will be slender and twisted. Its blossoms are in the form of a cross--two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal are nail prints with the stain of a rusty nail and blood, and in the center of the flower is a crown of thorns, so all who see it remembers.

Similar in appearance to dogwood is Philadelphus indoratus.

Phildelphus which we call English Dogwood has white petals and yellow stamens while Flowering Dogwood has white bracts and tiny flowers in the center. Veining of the leaves is similar. Mock Orange planted with Dogwoods extends the blooming season. P. inodorus is also native here.

Phildelphus inodorua and Cornus Florida

These are interplanted. I planted the English Dogwood. A bird planted the other. I left the Flowering Dogwood because it was determined to grow, coming up where I had given the young Philadelphus a generous dollop of lime. Dogwoods grow in acid soil and are usually very sensitive to lime.

You can't have too many Flowering Dogwoods, hardy in USDA zones 5-9, native to eastern USA. The birds and I keep planting more. If you plant some, stratifying the seed by soaking off the red part or running it through a bird's digestive sytem makes for quicker results. I just poke the red seeds into the ground with a stick and wait. I think the last count here was 19: two trees transplanted  from the woods by MIL more than 50 years ago, the rest a project of the birds and me. Sometimes I gather and scatter seeds in fall along woods' edge where Dogwoods are not plentiful.


  1. I have a Stellar Pink Rutgers Hybrid dogwood. It's supposedly more disease resistant than the species. It has beautiful pink flowers in the spring and can take more sun than shade. Mine is growing with most of the growth on one side. Even the arborist wasn't sure why. But I love my lopsided tree anyway! I wish I had as many around my property as you do! Yours are beautiful! :o)

  2. I love dogwoods, thanks for the info about them. I've never grown them from seed. I have two kinds, the species red osier and a red twig 'Arctic Fire'. Some day maybe I'll have a tree.

  3. Didn't realize they could so easily be grown from seed! These are just beautiful trees. I loved seeing yours in bloom, and especially enjoyed reading about the legend - some of it I had forgotten.

  4. I guess the previous owners of our property knew what they were doing. We have an English Dogwood and a Mock Orange side by side. Your blog helped me identify the dogwood properly, so I am eternally grateful to you and to Google.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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