Height: Up to 30 feet or so.
Lifespan: Relatively short-lived, but occasionally as long as 100 years or more.
Fall Foliage: Pretty awesome red to maroon color.
Range: Most of the eastern United States, from northern Florida to Massachusetts and as far west as Texas.
Typical Habitat: Planted widely as an ornamental but grows naturally in a variety of forest types. Typically an understory species.
The Flowering Dogwood: Beloved by Humans and Animals Alike
The flowering dogwood is one of the most celebrated trees of eastern forests. It’s a favorite for many reasons; primarily its gorgeous growth habit and jaw-dropping flowers (technically, the “flower” people love is primarily composed of bracts – the actual “flower” is just the center portion of the bloom). And its bright red fruit and beautiful fall color only make it even more appealing.
But it is also an important wildlife species, as just about every plant-eating critter in the forest loves consuming the tree’s fruit. Deer and rabbits also browse on the leaves from time to time.
Identification: Tips & Tricks
Flowering dogwoods have simple, oppositely situated leaves, which means the only trees you’re likely to confuse them with are maples – who have leaves of entirely different and distinct shapes – and other dogwoods.
Note the bark, flowers or fruit if necessary, but the curving pseudo-parallel lines of the leaves are usually sufficient to ID these trees.
The Flowering Dogwood: Additional Information
Given the reverence that this tree enjoys, there’s no shortage of additional information to check out. A few of our favorite resources for the species include:
- NC State Extension: Basic information, some cultivation info and a ton of great photos to peruse.
- U.S. Forest Service: A relatively dense resource that provides a wealth of information about the flowering dogwood.
- Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest: Conventional facts and figures, as well as some horticultural information.