Botanical Name: Cornus florida f. rubra
Common Name: Pink Flowering Dogwood
Description: This is the pink flowering form of the gorgeous Dogwood tree. It is native from East Texas over to the east coast. All Dogwoods, regardless of their flower/bract color, prefer growing in acidic, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, well-drained, and clay soils. Yes, they can grow in clay soils but it has to be well draining otherwise they could get root rot. If your soil is very heavy, amend the hole with amendments such as cow manure, mushroom compost, pink bark, etc., before planting the tree. In its native habitat they grow as understory trees, which means they love a part sun to part shade area in your garden. This tree grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24″ per year, to its mature size of 15-20′ tall and wide.
What are often referred to as the flowers on a dogwood are actually modified leaves called bracts. The tiny, true flowers are clustered in the center of the pink bracts. The pink bracts bloom in April and May. They are host plants to Spring Azure butterflies, and nectar plants for many butterflies, moths, native bees, and other pollinators.
After blooming, glossy red fruit ripens in the fall. Mammals, from squirrels to deer, and at least 28 bird species including robins, cardinals, and waxwings, eat the fruit.
The bark is very distinctive in that it is grayish to brown and broken into small blocks, resembling alligator hide.
This is a good tree for planting near utility lines, next to buildings, or near patios because they have relatively shallow roots and they are a medium size tree height wise. It is also an excellent contrast tree for larger evergreen backgrounds.
Dogwoods are deciduous trees, with their leaves turning a spectacular red or reddish-purple in the fall before dropping.
Lots of Interesting Tidbits On The Dogwood: The common name, Dogwood, comes from England. Years ago, people there used the bark of the bloodtwig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) to bathe mangy dogs. On this continent, flowering dogwood has been used by Native Americans to make scarlet dyes and tinctures. Although the fruits are poisonous to humans, in the late 1700s, colonists made a tea from dogwood bark to reduce fevers and soothe colds.
- The genus name “Cornus” means horn and refers to the very hard wood of the tree. Years ago the hard wood of dogwoods was valued for use in golf clubs, pulleys, engraving blocks, and tool handles.
- The species name “florida” does not refer to the State but rather an abundance of bloom.