Dogwood: Nature’s Irresistible Display  

by Australian Flowers

Interested in a tree with good looks, excellent fall colour, and attractive bark. Then the Dogwood just might be the tree for you!

Read more about Dogwood and what this tree can offer your landscape.

Name Story

Dogwood Flower

It got its name from the Old English word “dagge,” meaning “dagger.” This is likely about the sharp, pointed leaves of the tree. The scientific name is Cornus, which comes from the Latin word for “horn,” about the hard, durable wood of the tree. It has been used for centuries to make everything from furniture to dog tags!

They are also sometimes called “cornels.” This is likely because the word “corner” comes from the same Latin root as “Cornus.” Cornelian cherries (Cornus mas) are a type of this flower, and they are named for their edible fruit. The fruit is not palatable for people but is a bird’s favourite food.


It has been associated with several different symbolic meanings over the years. In some cultures, they are seen as symbols of strength and resilience, while in others, they are seen as symbols of purity and innocence. They are also sometimes used as symbols of love and affection.

They have been associated with several mythical creatures over the years. In some cultures, it is associated with dragons, while in others, they are seen as being associated with unicorns. 

Physical Description

The trees are small to medium-sized deciduous with opposite, simple leaves. They have spreading branches and a broad, round crown. The flowers are small and white, borne in clusters of 4-12.

The fruit is a fleshy drupe, blue-black in colour, which ripens in late summer or early fall. They are found in woods, thickets, and roads throughout the eastern United States.

Species And Varieties Of Dogwood

Here are the species and varieties.

Pacific Dogwood (Cornus Nuttallii)

Cornus nuttallii is a small tree or shrub in the Cornaceae family. It is native to western North America and can be found in British Columbia, Washington state, Oregon, California, and northern Mexico.

This is a deciduous tree that typically grows between 16 and 26 feet (5 and 8 m) tall, with a trunk diameter of around 6-12 inches (15-30 cm). The leaves are oval-shaped and 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) long, with a pointy tip. The edges of the leaves are smooth or slightly toothed. The flowers are typically about an inch (2.5 cm) wide.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus Florida)

Flowering Dogwood is a type of tree native to eastern North America. The tree gets its name from the fact that it has showy flowers that bloom in the spring. It is a famous ornamental tree that is often planted in gardens and parks.

It has green, oval-shaped leaves and branches that grow in a zig-zag pattern. The tree produces small, white flowers that bloom in the spring. It also has red berries that ripen in the fall.

Common Dogwood (Cornus Sanguinea)

It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5–9 m (16–30 ft) tall, with opposite, simple oval leaves up to 12 cm (4.7 in) long and 6 cm (2.4 in) broad. The flowers are small, with four white petals 3–6 mm (0.12–0.24 in) long, produced in clusters of 10–25 in the late spring. The fruit is a globose white drupe 2 cm (0.79 in) in diameter, containing a single large, hard seed; it matures about eight weeks after flowering in the autumn.

Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus Sericea)

Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a native to North America. It gets its name from the bright red stems that it produces. It is a popular ornamental plant. It is often used in landscaping because it has showy flowers, berries, and leaves. The plant is also deer-resistant and drought-tolerant. Additionally, red osier can be used for erosion control because of its fast growth rate and robust root system.

Japanese Cornelian Cherry (Cornus Officinalis)

Japanese cornelian cherry is a deciduous shrub or small tree part of the family. It is also known as Cornelian cherry dogwood, European Dogwood, and common Dogwood. The scientific name for this plant is Cornus mas. This variety of plant is native to Eurasia, specifically southern Europe and western Asia.

The flowers of this are small and borne in clusters of 2-5. They are white or slightly pink and have four petals. The flower’s blooming period is from May to June. The fruit of this plant is a red, fleshy drupe about 0.5 inches in diameter. The fruit ripens from August to October.

Japanese Dogwood (Cornus Kousa)

Cornus kousa is a small deciduous tree 8–12 m (26–39 ft) tall in the flowering genus Cornus and family Cornaceae. Sometimes spelled Koussa, it is native to East Asia, specifically China, Korea, and Japan. It grows in mixed woodlands and occasionally forms understory trees in forests with a mostly conifer canopy. It reaches 20 m (66 ft) on rare occasions in the wild.

Cornelian Cherry (Cornus Mas)

The Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) is a flowering species native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. The Cornelian cherry is a deciduous shrub or small tree that grows to about 16 feet tall. The plant has dark green, oval-shaped leaves and clusters of small, yellow flowers that bloom in early spring. The flowers are followed by red, orange, or blackberries. The Cornelian cherry is cultivated for its fruit, which is used to make jams, jellies, and liqueurs.

Wedding Cake Tree (Cornu’s Controversy)

The Wedding Cake Tree, scientific name Cornus Controversy, is a species native to Asia. The shrub is named for its distinct tiered branches, which resemble a wedding cake. It is a popular ornamental plant in gardens and parks.

Cornus Controversa grows to be 6-8m tall and 4-6m wide. It has dark green, oval-shaped leaves which turn bronze or red in autumn. The shrub produces small white flowers in spring, followed by clusters of red fruit in summer.

Dwarf Cornel (Cornus Suecica)

 It is also known as Swedish Dogwood or Scandinavian Dogwood. The plant grows to 3-6 feet and has opposite, ovate leaves. The flowers are small and white, borne in clusters of 4-6. The fruit is a red drupe. Cornus Suecica is a popular ornamental plant and is often used in landscaping. The plant is hardy and can tolerate cold winters. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.

Creeping Dogwood (Cornus Canadensis)

The plant is also known by its other common name, Canadian Dogwood. Creeping Dogwood is a member of the dogwood family (Cornaceae) and is closely related to others, such as flowering dogwood (C. Florida) and kousa dogwood (C. kousa).

Creeping Dogwood is a popular landscape plant due to its showy flowers and berries. The plant typically blooms in May or June with small, white flowers borne in clusters. Each flower has four petals arranged in the shape of a cross. The flowers are followed by small, round, red berries that ripen in late summer or early fall.

Creeping Dogwood is an adaptable plant that can be grown in various soil types and habitats. The plant prefers moist, well-drained soils but can also tolerate dry conditions. Creeping Dogwood is often found in woodlands, streams, and other damp areas.

Alternate-leaf Dogwood (Cornus Alternifolia)

It is a small tree that grows to about 20-30 feet tall. The leaves are opposite each other on the stem, meaning they grow in pairs. Each leaf is 3-6 inches long and 2-4 inches wide. The flowers are small and white, growing in clusters of 4-6. The fruit is a small, red drupe.

White Dogwood (Cornus Alba)

White Dogwood is a small deciduous tree native to Europe, Asia, and North America. The tree grows to a height of 15-20 feet and has a spread of 10-15 feet. White Dogwood blooms in May with white flowers 3-4 inches in diameter. The flowers are followed by green berries that turn red in the fall. White Dogwood is a famous landscaping tree often used as a specimen or hedge plant.

Best Flowering Dogwood Varieties

Here are the best flowering varieties

Cornus Controversa ‘Variegata’

Cornus Controversy ‘Variegata’ is a variety for its showy, variegated leaves. It is a popular ornamental plant in gardens and parks. The leaves are elliptical or ovate-shaped, characterized by their yellow-green colour with white margins. The flowers are small and white, and they bloom in the spring. The fruits are red berries that ripen in the summer.

This variety is native to Asia, specifically China and Japan. It was introduced to Europe in the 18th century and has grown in North America since the early 19th century. Cornus Controversy ‘Variegata’ is a deciduous tree that loses its leaves in the fall. It typically grows to be about 15-20 feet tall, but it can reach up to 30 feet tall under ideal conditions.

Cornus’ Eddie’s ‘White Wonder’

Cornus’ Eddie’s White Wonder’ is a small tree native to North America. The tree gets its name from the white flowers that bloom in the springtime. The flowers are surrounded by four large petals, which give the tree a showy appearance. The Cornus’ Eddie’s White Wonder’ leaves are dark green and turn red in the fall. The tree produces small, red berries in the summertime.

The Cornus’ Eddie’s White Wonder’ is a famous ornamental tree because of its showy flowers and beautiful fall foliage. The tree can be grown in full sun or partial shade, and it prefers moist, well-drained soil. The tree is relatively easy to care for and does not require much pruning.

Cornus Florida

Cornus florida is a species that is native to eastern North America, from southernmost Canada (Ontario) south to northernmost Florida and west to the Great Plains. It is the state tree of Missouri and North Carolina.

Cornus Florida ‘Cherokee Chief’

It’s a flowering dogwood cultivar that grows in USDA zones 6-9. And it’s one showy little tree! This variety features dark red flowers that bloom in early spring before the leaves appear. The flowers are followed by glossy, dark green leaves that turn deep red in fall. This also has bright red fruits that persist into winter, providing food for birds.

Cornus Kousa ‘Var Chinensis’

It is deciduous of the Cornus kousa species. It is also commonly called Chinese Dogwood. This variety is originally from Asia and is different from the native, Cornus florida. The Cornus kousa Chinensis has pretty, white flowers bloom in early summer, about a month after the dogwoods of the Cornus florida species.

The Chinese Dogwood also has attractive, shiny, dark green leaves that turn a beautiful burgundy colour in the fall before they drop off the tree. This prefers partial sun to full shade and moist, well-drained soil. It is a low-maintenance dogwood that is relatively pest and disease-free. The Chinese Dogwood grows about 20-30 feet tall and wide at maturity.

Cornus Kousa ‘China Girl’

This variety is from China. The flowers are white, and the leaves are green. The tree grows to be about 20 feet tall. The flowers bloom in late spring or early summer. This is also known as the Korean Dogwood.

Cornus Kousa ‘Miss Satomi’

The Cornus kousa ‘Miss Satomi’ Dogwood is a small deciduous tree native to China and Korea. The tree gets its name from the Japanese word for Dogwood, kousa. The ‘Miss Satomi’ variety was named after the late Japanese actress, Miss Satomi Igawa. The tree is also sometimes called Chinese Dogwood or Korean Dogwood.

The Cornus kousa’ Miss Satomi’ is a small to medium-sized tree that typically grows 20-30 feet tall and 15-25 feet wide. The tree has a spreading, rounded crown with horizontal branches. The leaves turn red, purple, or burgundy in the fall.

Cornus Kousa ‘Schmetterling’

Cornus kousa ‘Schmetterling’ is a small deciduous tree with a spreading, multi-stemmed habit. The leaves are ovate to oblong-lanceolate, dark green and have conspicuous white veins. The flowers are borne in large, showy corymbs in late spring. They are white with four petals and yellow stamens. The fruit is a large, fleshy, crimson berry.

Cornus kousa ‘Schmetterling’ is a beautiful tree well suited to small gardens. It is easy to grow and maintain. This tree does best in full sun or partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. It is tolerant of a wide range of soils and pH levels. Cornus kousa ‘Schmetterling’ is also resistant to most pests and diseases.

Cornus Kousa ‘Teutonia’

It is a small, deciduous tree that typically matures to 15-20′ tall with a rounded crown. It is native to Japan, Korea and China. It does best in full sun to part shade and prefers rich, moist, well-drained soils.

Flowers appear in flat-topped clusters (cymes) in late spring, with each flower featuring four narrow, petal-like white bracts surrounding a small group of yellowish-green flowers. Fruits ripen in fall and may persist into winter. Fruits are fleshy and drupe-like and mature to a bright red.

Cornus Mas

This variety is a flowering dogwood. It is native to Europe and Asia. The tree grows about 20 feet tall and has white flowers blooming in the spring. Edible red berries follow the flowers.

The Cornus mas is often used as an ornamental tree because of its showy flowers and berries. It is also a popular choice for bonsai. This variety is tolerant of a wide range of conditions, making it a good choice for many gardens. It prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It is drought-tolerant once established.


The tree has many uses. The wood is hard and robust, making it suitable for furniture and flooring. The bark can be used to create a yellow dye. The flowers are sometimes used to make a sweet wine. The fruit can be eaten fresh or made into jelly.

Garden Uses

They are popular ornamental trees. They are grown for flowers, fruit, leaves, and attractive bark. Some of them have colourful stems that are used in dried flower arrangements. The wood of some dogwood is rigid and heavy and is used to make toys, mallets, tool handles, and other objects where strength and durability are essential.

Care Guide

They are one of the most popular ornamental trees in North America. They are known for their beautiful flowers blooming in the spring and bright red berries appearing in the fall. They are also popular because they are relatively easy to care for. Here are some guides on how to care for this plant


It needs 1 inch of water per week. They are drought-tolerant once established but will need supplemental watering during extended periods of dry weather. They should be watered deeply and less frequently rather than shallowly and more often.

This encourages roots to grow deeper into the soil, making the tree more drought-tolerant. It can be particularly susceptible to drought stress during the dog days of summer. Wilting leaves and premature leaf drops show that your plant needs more water.


They are a famous ornamental tree that is known for their beautiful flowers. To keep them looking their best, it is essential to fertilize them regularly. Several different fertilizers can be used for them, but the best one depends on your tree’s specific needs.

  • If your plant is young and growing, you should use a high-nitrogen fertilizer. This will help promote healthy growth and ensure the tree gets all the nutrients it needs. An all-purpose fertilizer or a fertilizer specifically designed for trees and shrubs can be used for this purpose.
  • Once your tree is established, you can switch to using a fertilizer higher in phosphorus. This will help to encourage blooming and ensure that the flowers are as vibrant and beautiful as possible. A fertilizer designed explicitly for flowering plants can be used for this purpose.

Planting Time

They are best planted in the fall, giving them a chance to establish themselves before the summer heat—plant in an area that gets full sun to partial shade and has well-drained soil. Avoid planting too profoundly; the top of the root ball should be even with or slightly higher than the surrounding ground.

Once they are planted, water them deeply and regularly for the first year or two. They are relatively low-maintenance after they’re established, but they do need occasional deep watering during periods of drought.


Seed, cuttings, or division can propagate.

  • To propagate by seed, collect the seeds in the fall after the fruit ripened and dried on the tree. The seeds need a period of cold stratification (a process of subjecting seeds to cold temperatures for a set period) before they will germinate. You can stratify the seeds by mixing them with moist sand and storing them in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for three to four months.
  • To propagate by cuttings, take 4-6 inch softwood or semi-ripe cuttings from the current season’s growth in late summer or early fall. Strip the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting and dip the cut end in the rooting hormone. Plant the cuttings in a pot filled with moistened perlite, vermiculite, or sand. Cover the pot with a plastic bag to create a humid environment and place it in bright, indirect light. The cuttings should root within four to eight weeks.
  • It can also be propagated by division. This is best done in the fall when the plant is dormant. Dig up and carefully divide the root ball into sections, ensuring each team has a sound root system. Replant the areas immediately. Water the dogwoods well and mulch them to protect the roots over winter.

How To Grow Flowering Dogwoods

To grow.

  • Start with potted dogwood trees from a nursery.
  • If you live in an area where they are native, you can also collect seeds from the ground in the fall.
  • Sow the seeds in a moistened potting mix or peat moss in fall or early spring.
  • Place the seed-starting container in an excellent location, such as a basement or garage, until germination occurs.
  • Water the young tree regularly, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.
  • When the tree is big enough to handle, transplant it to a location with full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
  • Fertilize annually with a balanced fertilizer in spring.
  • Apply the fertilizer according to the package directions.

Where To Grow Flowering Dogwoods

Flowering dogwoods (Cornus Florida) thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, meaning they can be grown in most parts of the country. They prefer full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. Avoid planting in too windy locations or with poor air circulation, as this can cause the leaves to brown.

When it comes to sizes, it does matter. The tree you choose should be proportional to the available space in your yard. A good rule of thumb is to select a dogwood that is 1/10 the height of your house and 1/5 the width of your home.

So there it is; It is a beautiful tree with many different meanings and can be found in many other parts of the world. If you ever have the chance to see one in person, take it! They are indeed a sight to behold.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Dogwood’s Scientific Name?

Its scientific name is Cornus florida.

How Long Do Dogwoods Live?

They can live for up to 100 years.

Where Are Dogwoods Found?

They are found in the eastern United States.

What Do Dogwoods Look Like?

They are small trees that have white or pink flowers.

What Are The Different Types Of Dogwoods?

There are several different types of dogwoods, including:-Cornus florida, flowering dogwood-Cornus kousa, Kousa dogwood-Cornus alternifolia, alternate-leaved dogwood-Cornus sericea, or red osier dogwood.

When Do Dogwoods Bloom?

They typically bloom in the springtime.

What Do Dogwoods Symbolize?

They symbolize grace and purity. They are often used in ceremonies and as decorations because of their delicate flowers and graceful branches.

What Is Special About The Dogwood Tree?

The dogwood tree is special because of its blooms. It is one of the first trees to bloom in the spring, and its flowers are a beautiful white. The dogwood tree is also unique because it grows in multiple different parts of the world. You can find it in North America, Europe, and Asia.

What is the prettiest dogwood tree?

There are many beautiful dogwood trees, but my personal favorite is the pink dogwood (Cornus florida). It has delicate, blooms that emerge in spring and last for several weeks. The tree itself is also quite lovely, with a graceful form and attractive bark.

Is dogwood poisonous to dogs?

Yes, dogwood is poisonous to dogs. The toxins in dogwood interfere with the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body, and can cause severe anemia. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and collapse. If you think your dog has eaten a significant amount of dogwood, contact your veterinarian immediately. There is no specific antidote for dogwood poisoning, but treatment will involve supportive care such as intravenous fluids and oxygen therapy.

You may also like

Australian Flowers is the number one place to learn about flowers, whether you’re interested in botanical gardens, planting at home or just learning about the amazing wildlife we have in Australia


Join our newsletter if you’d like to get automatically notified when we post new content on the site. We’d love to let you know!

Copyright © 2022 Australian Flowers. All Rights Reserved.