Interesting Facts About Dogwood Trees

By Shannon C

The Dogwood tree, or Cornus florida, is legendary for its beauty. The Dogwood blossom, a four pointed white blossom tinged with red at each edge, is the state flower of North Carolina, and has a rich history—both fact and legend—attached to the tree. The Dogwood tree blossoms appear in April and May annually, and may account for the legend attached to it that the blossoms, with their white interior and crimson red edges, denote the suffering that Jesus Christ endured two thousand years ago on the cross, and specifically the blood that was spilled from the Christ’s hands and feet during the crucifixion process. The devout view the tree as a spring reminder of the suffering, resurrection, and redemption that the Christian path offers the penitent. Others simply admire the Dogwood tree for its rich and reliable flowering beauty and cool shade in the summer of the hot Southern states.

The Dogwood tree also produces both flowers and berries, but neither is exactly what it seems to be. The berries are edible only to birds and small creatures, and are not actually berries at all, but drupes, a fruit more similar to an apricot or cherry. The majority of each blossom is actually a modified leaf, or bracht, which forms the outer perimeter of the true flowers, the small green and yellow blossoms in the inmost interior of each “blossom.” Dogwood bark has long been considered to have medicinal properties as a fever reducer, and Dogwood wood is very sturdy and hard. It is useful because it resists abrasions well, and can be used to construct both structures and implements such as weaving shuttles and even golf clubs. Dogwood trees can reach up to 30 feet in height and are considered ornamental trees with their tiered growing patterns.