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Dogwood Trees: Delightful All Year Long!

 Native Plant Spotlight: Flowering Dogwood

(Cornus florida)

Dogwood Tree 
Dogwood tree in the fall. Photo by

This month our native plant spotlight focus on the Flowering Dogwood, a tree commonly found in Rock Creek Park that is about to pop with beautiful red colors.  In fact, some trees have already begun to turn!

The tree, native to most of North Eastern America, can grow more than 30 feet in height and in many mature adults is wider than it is tall. The long, oval-shaped leaves turn a spectacular red in the Fall as its leaves begin to change before winter.
Red Dogwood LeavesRed leaves on a dogwood tree in the fall. 
Photo by:

The tree is commonly planted as an ornamental in parks and public spaces due to the showy flower petals (referred to as bracts) which grow a pretty white (and sometimes red or pink) in the springtime. In the fall, the tree also produces berries that are enjoyed by virtually every bird species that visits Rock Creek Park eats.

Unfortunately, many Dogwood trees in Rock Creek Park suffer from Dogwood anthracnose, a fungus that forms blotches on the leaves and can kill tree already stressed trees in a few years.  Early removal of infected areas can prevent the spread of the disease but please leave identifying the fungus to the professionals!  

In 2012, the United States sent 3000 Flowering Dogwoods to Japan to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Cherry Blossom gift that was given to the United States by Japan in 1912 as a symbol of friendship.  

Japanese officials plant dogwood tree.
 "Capt. Charles Rock, commanding officer of Fleet Activities Sasebo, center, Sasebo Mayor Norio Tomonaga, far left, and other U.S. and Japanese officials, plant a dogwood tree during the Friendship Blossoms-Dogwood Tree Initiative Planting Ceremony at the Taiiku Bunkakan Community Center in Sasebo." - US Navy 

Written by John Maleri 

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Tags: Native Species John Maleri

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