Cornus florida - Flowering Dogwood
Family: Cornaceae

Hear the scientific name

Cornus florida is a small tree with four-season appeal. Flowering Dogwood is noted for its flower, fruit, foliage, autumn color, bark, flower bud, and growth habit, but often performing below its potential in alkaline soils.

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form2 form Form

-small deciduous tree

-maturing at 15' tall x 20' wide under optimum conditions but often half that size or less under stressful conditions

-upright oval growth habit in youth to spreading mounded with age, with limbs becoming layered, heavy, and slightly pendulous

-slow growth rate

foliage2 foliage Foliage

-medium to dark green above but silvery-green below

-opposite and acuminate, with major veins parallel to the leaf margins

-autumn color red to crimson-purple, in Sept. and Oct., and often spectacular, especially in full to partial sun


-true flowers are small, yellow-green, and clustered in the middle of 4, white, showy, bracts that are obovate and have reddish-brown indentations at their apices

-flowering in late Apr. and early May and spectacular for up to 1 week


-ovoid clusters of upright fruits

-green turning to bright red in Sept., with a thin interior yellow flesh covering the seed

-very showy red fruits contrast well with the green foliage, or are showy by themselves when persistent through Nov. after leaf abscission

-fruits are readily eaten by birds and squirrels


-red-brown to silvery brown twigs display sympodial branching (several twigs originate from a common branch point and are slightly uplifted and spreading, like fingers from an upturned palm)

-twig distinctly ringed with sequential leaf scars for a telescoping effect

-floral buds off-white, tinged with purple and forming in late summer, resembling biscuits with 2 distinct outer scales

-branches light gray and smooth

trunk Trunk

-single or multi-trunked and low-branching

-bark is broken into small square or rectangular blocks, dark gray-brown, and often prominently covered with silvery lichens with age

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-tolerates full sun (if irrigated in summer) to full shade (if flowering and fruiting is not important), but best placed in partial sun to partial shade

-prefers well-drained but moist, acid soils

-propagated by rooted cuttings, cuttings grafted onto seedling understock, or seeds

-many disease and pest problems (exacerbated by improper placement in alkaline or neutral soils) including borers, leaf spots, and anthracnose

-abundant availability in the trade

-not tolerant of compaction, severe heat with drought, poor drainage, alkaline soils, or urban stress in general

distribution map


-zones 5 to 9


-native to forests of Eastern and Southern U.S. as an understory tree or on the edges of woodlands

U   S   A   G   E


-four-season small tree (spring flowers, summer foliage, autumn foliage and berries, winter bark, branching, and floral buds)


-not urban tolerant or stress tolerant (needs optimum placement, acid soil pH, and summer irrigation for full beauty to be realized)

-slow growth

-various cosmetic and life-threatening diseases and pests


-focal point, specimen, foundation, entranceway, understory, border, naturalizing, wildlife attraction, or four-season accent small tree


-medium in foliage and fine when bare

-average density in foliage and thick when bare

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-small trees having multi-season qualities, especially showy flowering

-horizontally-layered or mounding shrubs or small trees


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