Flowering Dogwood

Cornus florida

Susan J. Aldworth, Trees and Shrubs of the Campus of Iowa State University

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database

Flowering Dogwoods are one of our most common understory trees. Understory means that it grows beneath taller trees.

This small tree grows about 30 feet tall. Its trunk usually isn't more than eight inches wide. The trunk is also short, with many spreading branches.

Flowering Dogwood leaves grow up to five inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide. They are green with short stalks. Underneath they are pale green.

Flowering Dogwood leaves turn bright red in the Fall.

Richard Davidson

Donald R. Farrar, Trees and Shrubs of the Campus of Iowa State University

The bark of Flowering Dogwoods is dark reddish-brown. It is rough, with many square-like plates.

Flowers are not very big, but they look big, because they have large petal-like objects, called bracts, coming from them. These large white bracts look like part of the flower.

Flowering Dogwood fruits are long berry-like drupes. These shiny red fruits can grow up to 1/2 inch long.

The fruits are eaten by many animals, and last from September through December.

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database

Donald R. Farrar, Trees and Shrubs of the Campus of Iowa State University

Flowering Dogwoods grow underneath many trees, including: oaks, hickories, Yellow Poplar, Sweetgum, Virginia Pine, Loblolly Pine, American Beech, and Red Maple.

Other plants that grow with them may be blueberry, Sassafras, Serviceberry, and brambles.

As an understory tree, or a tree at forest edges, Flowering Dogwoods provide cover for many forest animals.

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database

This tree depends on bees, beetles, butterflies, and other insects to help pollinate it. Seeds are spread by birds and animals, which poop them out in new places after they eat the fruit.

Many, many birds and animals eat dogwood fruit. Some of them are: Northern Cardinal, Eastern Bluebird, Dark-eyed Junco, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, Tree Swallow, Raccoon, Red Fox, Eastern Chipmunk, American Crow, woodpeckers, Common Grackle, Common Starling, squirrels, Beaver, Striped Skunk, White-footed Mouse, and White-tailed Deer.

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database


Deer and rabbits also eat young Flowering Dogwoods.

Some pests of this tree are dogwood borers, aphids, scale insects, and caterpillars of moths, such as Io Moth and tussock moths.

Some mushrooms, including the Honey Mushroom, are parasites of dogwoods.

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants


Northern Cardinal

American Robin

Black Oak

Honey Mushroom Pa

Dogwood Borer

Northern Cardinal

White Oak

Eastern Chipmunk D

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Southern Red Oak

Death Cap My

Northern Bobwhite

Green Stinkbug

Virginia Pine

European Gypsy Moth C

Wild Turkey


Loblolly Pine

Eastern Bluebird D


Northern Bobwhite

Red Maple

Japanese Honeysuckle Pa

Red Fox

Northern Mockingbird

American Beech

White-footed Mouse D

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Oystershell Scale


Oystershell Scale Pa

White-footed Mouse

Spined Micrathena


Dogwood Borer Pa

Eastern Chipmunk

Dogwood Borer

Yellow Poplar

White-tailed Deer

Bald-faced Hornet

Mockernut Hickory


Sharp-shinned Hawk

Highbush Blueberry

Pileated Woodpecker

Bushy Aster

Downy Woodpecker

Eastern White Pine

Green Stinkbug

American Holly

Oystershell Scale

Common Elderberry

Honey Bee

Tussock Sedge

Striped Skunk

Japanese Honeysuckle

Tufted Titmouse

American Hornbeam

Eastern Bluebird

Black Locust

Relationship to Humans:

The wood of Flowering Dogwoods is used for mallet heads, tool handles, spools, charcoal, golf club heads, and knitting needles. This tree is often grown as an ornamental tree in landscaping. Flowering Dogwood fruits are poisonous to people.


Cornus florida


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