Leaves, bracts, and flowers of flowering dogwood | Photo credit: USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station Archive, USDA Forest Service, SRS, Bugwood.org
The small and graceful flowering dogwood is a popular ornamental of the Cornaceae family. It grows from extreme southwestern Maine to eastern Kansas, south to eastern Texas and Florida. You can find flowering dogwood trees in well-drained, light upland soils to deep, moist soils along streams, and lower slopes.
It grows near or under many taller trees including some of the hickories, oaks, tulip tree, pines, red maple, and American beech. It also occurs with smaller trees and shrubs such as redbud and hawthorns.
Flowering dogwood is fast growing, short-lived, and bears clusters of showy, white to pinkish-white flowers appearing before leaves unfold in the spring. Flowering is followed by red, berry-like fruits that are valuable to wildlife. Many species of songbirds, small mammals, squirrels, and raccoons are attracted to the fruits in autumn. Whitetail deer browse the leaves and twigs, especially enjoying new sprout growth.
The white wood is hard, tough, close-grained, and good for making tool handles.