Graves, Arthur H. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut.
Davis, Kenneth P. School of Forestry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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Any of the tree or shrub species in the genus Cornus. The tree, Cornus florida, also known as the flowering dogwood, may reach a height of 40 ft (12 m) and is found in the eastern half of the United States and in southern Ontario, Canada. It has opposite, simple, deciduous leaves with entire margins. When this tree is in full flower, the four large, white, notched bracts or petal-like growths surrounding the small head of flowers give an ornamental effect that is unequaled by any native tree (see illustration). Pink-, rose-, and cream-colored varieties are commonly planted. The tree is tolerant of shade. At blossoming time, usually in early May, the patches of white reveal its presence, even in dense woods. The wood is very hard and is used for roller skates, carpenters' planes, and other articles in which hardness is desired. The Janka hardness for C. florida is 2150 lb-force (975 kg-force); its density is 50 lb/ft3 (801 kg/m3). As a shade tree, it is especially desirable for the modern ranch-type house, where small size is appropriate. The Pacific dogwood (C. nuttallii), which grows in Idaho and from southwestern British Columbia to southern California, is similar to the flowering (eastern) dogwood, but has rounded bracts. The Japanese dogwood (C. kousa) is a similar small tree with pointed bracts and blooms in June. Other shrubby species of dogwood are used as ornamentals. See also: Cornales; Flower; Forest and forestry; Horticultural crops; Ornamental plants; Tree
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