April: Flowering Dogwood

If you ask someone what their favorite tree is, there’s good chance that they will name a spring-flowering beauty. And of those spring bloomers, flowering dogwood is a classic crowd-pleaser. With its snowy white or soft pink blossoms, flowering dogwood stands as a sign that spring has fully arrived at last.

Photo by Maria Gulley

Photo by Maria Gulley

Flowering dogwood is native to much of the southern and eastern U.S. What appear to be white or pink petals are actually bracts, modified leaves. The true flowers are the tiny green clusters at the center of each set of four bracts. Its loose, broadly spreading canopy is perfectly suited for catching the dappled light that makes it through the trees of the forest. In the fall, the foliage turns maroon and brilliant red fruits develop. The fruits are a valuable source of food for native wildlife.


Common Name: Flowering Dogwood

Scientific Name: Cornus florida

Light: part shade to full shade

Size: 15-30’ tall and wide

Bloom Time and Color: blooms April to May with white or pink flowers, depending on variety

Notable Varieties: f. rubra (pink bracts), ‘Cherokee Chief’ (deep pink bracts, almost red), ‘Cherokee Princess’ (large white bracts, earlier bloom time than other varieties)

Soil: prefers consistent moisture, tolerates clay

Other Notes: native to Indiana, deer and rabbit resistant, can grow around black walnut, food source for pollinators and other wildlife

See other plants of the month.

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