Bloom of the Week: Dogwood

November 14, 2019

Bloom of the Week: Dogwood

Dogwood flowers grow on small trees that are wider than they are tall. The Dogwood tree is an extremely common ornamental plant that offers beautiful flowers and unique fruits. These blooms are native to eastern North America and northern Mexico. The flowers individually are very small and inconspicuous. Each flower head actually contains roughly 20 yellowish flowers clustered in a small rounded shape, surrounded by four petal-like bracts. 

 

The most common color for the bracts is white but pink and true red varieties also exist naturally. The bracts are typically just over an inch long each and rounded with a distinct notch at the apex. The flowers are hermaphroditic, or “perfect flowers,” meaning they have male and female reproductive organs. The genus of the Dogwood includes more than 50 different species.

Silver Metallic Magnolia Leaves & White Velvet Dogwood Christmas Holiday Front Door Wreath

Mature trees are between 15 and 40 feet tall and usually flat on the top. Dogwoods bloom all year: flowering in spring, fruiting in summer and showing wine-colored foliage in autumn.

 

All Dogwood trees have similar shaped leaves. these are simple leaves with an ovate shape and visible veins on the leaves. Ovate is one of the most common leaf shapes so dogwood leaves are not easily identified by their leaves. Flowering Dogwood can be identified by their fruit clusters. The trunks of these trees are covered with small, block-like bark. According to some stories, a wash made with the bark of the English Dogwood cured dogs with mange, offering a possible explanation for the tree’s name.

The Dogwood flower is a symbol of rebirth and resurrection. Linked to Christianity, the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified was made out of Dogwood, which is the main reason why this tree and flower is often linked to Christianity. People often used Dogwood flowers as decoration in religious events and gatherings, which only added to the importance of Dogwood flowers to Christianity.

 

Victorians practiced an interesting tradition that involved dogwood trees. A bachelor would offer a branch of a dogwood tree to a woman he liked and waited for her response. If the flower was returned to him, this meant the girl wasn’t interested in his proposal and if the flower was kept by the girl, this meant she liked him back. This is the reason why the dogwood flower symbolizes the affection and love we feel towards someone. Pink and dark red dogwood varieties carry more love and passion symbolism. 

White Velvet Dogwood, Ilex Berry with Magnolia & Eucalyptus Leaves Christmas Hat Box Floral Arrangement

This tree is the national tree of the state of Missouri and the state flower of North Carolina. North Carolina has 5 dogwood festivals that are all in April.

 

The legend of the dogwood tree is God cursed the trees forever after jesus was hung on a cross made from this type of wood. Due to this supposed curse, the growth pattern of the dogwood tree is said to be stunted and twisted. There is no real historic fact to back this up, and there are no notes that show whether or not that the dogwood tree used to grow taller before the crucifixion. However, the tree does now have a growth pattern that is very twisted and short.

Some varieties of dogwood are edible and tasty, others are poisonous! While these fruits vary in shape, size and color for different types of dogwood trees, flowering dogwoods produce non edible half-inch-long, bright red, football-shaped fruits. The berries are very astringent and bitter. The red berries grow in clusters and mature into the fall. Some varieties have edible fruits. These edible little fruits are commonly referred to as Kousa berries, cornus fruit, and asiatic cornelian cherry. They taste similar to sour cherries. 

 

Flowering dogwood can be identified by their fruit clusters. Dogwood fruit is said to have health benefits and is ideal for people with liver and kidney deficiencies. Traditional Chinese medicine uses dogwood fruit to stabilize and tonify the kidney and liver. 

Red Velvet Dogwood, Gold Ball & Red Berry Christmas Centerpiece Arrangement in Textured Vase

Dogwood trees were once used as a tobacco additive by some Native Americans, as well as a water treatment to stun fish for easier harvesting in Jamaica. The Jamaican dogwood also has usefulness as a medicinal treatment for migraines and blood pressure conditions. American and Asian varieties don’t offer the same medicinal benefits and actually have more safety hazards, so check the variety of dogwood before buying an herbal supplement.

 

These trees like plenty of water and sunshine. Dogwoods do best in dappled shade areas, which is when taller shade trees provide protection from the more direct sun rays. The trees prefer well-drained, moist soil that is not overly wet. 



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