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Cornus florida - L.

Common Name Flowering Dogwood
Family Cornaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards There is a report that the fruit is poisonous for humans[229].
Habitats Rich well-drained soils in acidic woods to 1500 metres[43, 82]. An understorey tree in dry deciduous woods[82, 222].
Range Eastern N. America - Maine to Florida, east to Kansas and Texas.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Cornus florida Flowering Dogwood


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Cornus florida Flowering Dogwood
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Summary

Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Cornus florida is a deciduous Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in November. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Benthamidia florida. Cynoxylon floridum.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Drink

Fruit - cooked. The fruit is not poisonous, but is almost inedible raw[226]. When the seed is removed and the flesh is mashed, it can be mixed with other fruits and made into jams, jellies etc[226]. The fruit, when infused in 'Eau de Vie' makes a bitter but acceptable drink[4]. One report says that the fruit is poisonous for humans[229]. The fruit is borne in clusters, each fruit being up to 15mm in diameter with a thin mealy bitter flesh[229]. The fruit is high in lipids, uo to 35% of dry weight[274].

Medicinal Uses

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Anthelmintic  Antidiarrhoeal  Antiperiodic  Appetizer  Astringent  Bitter  Diaphoretic  Poultice  
Stimulant  Tonic

Flowering dogwood was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who valued it especially for its astringent and antiperiodic properties[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism. The dried root-bark is antiperiodic, astringent, diaphoretic, mildly stimulant and tonic[4, 46, 61, 95, 257]. The flowers are said to have similar properties[4]. A tea or tincture of the astringent root bark has been used as a quinine substitute to treat malaria[95, 222, 257] and also in the treatment of chronic diarrhoea[222]. The bark has also been used as a poultice on external ulcers, wounds etc[222, 257]. The glycoside 'cornin' found in the bark has astringent properties[213]. The inner bark was boiled and the tea drunk to reduce fevers and to restore a lost voice[213, 257]. A compound infusion of the bark and the root has been used in the treatment of various childhood diseases such as measles and worms[257]. It was often used in the form of a bath[257]. The fruits are used as a bitter digestive tonic[222]. A tincture of them has been used to restore tone to the stomach in cases of alcoholism[4].

Our new book Edible Shrubs is now available.

Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

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Edible Shrubs Book

Other Uses

Brush  Dye  Ink  Repellent  Teeth  Wood

A red dye is obtained from the fibrous root[4, 95]. The peeled twigs are used as toothbrushes, they are good for whitening the teeth[4, 95, 102]. The juice from the twigs preserves and hardens the gums[4]. The twigs can also be chewed to make natural paintbrushes[102]. A black ink can be made from the bark mixed with gum arabic and iron sulphate[4]. The bark is very bitter, could it be used to make an insect or bird repellent[K]? Wood - hard, heavy, strong, close grained, durable, takes a good polish and is extremely shock-resistant. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot and is used for making wheel hubs, tool handles, the heads of golf clubs, bearings, turnery etc[4, 46, 61, 82, 102, 171, 227]. A dynamic accumulator gathering minerals or nutrients from the soil and storing them in a more bioavailable form - used as fertilizer or to improve mulch.

Special Uses

Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Specimen, Woodland garden. An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any soil of good or moderate fertility[1], ranging from acid to shallow chalk[200]. Dislikes shallow clay soils and chalky soils[98, 182]. Requires a neutral to acid soil according to another report[202]. Prefers a rich loamy well-drained soil[98]. Succeeds in full sun or light shade[[188]. Plants can be trained to grow against a wall when they prefer a position in light shade[202]. Plants are very hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°c. but they are subject to damage by late frosts and are rarely successful away from the warmer counties of Britain[11, 200]. They require a long hot humid summer if they are to grow well, doing best in the east or south-east of Britain[182, 200] in areas that are not subject to late or early frosts. They do not generally do very well in the south-west, where the flower bracts are often damaged by frosts[200]. Medium to fast growing when young, but slowing with age[202]. Trees are short-lived[229]. A very ornamental plant, there are many named varieties[200, 202]. It is the state flower of Virginia[212]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Attracts butterflies, Blooms are very showy. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 3. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a standard with a non-suckering single trunk [1-2]. The root pattern is flat with shallow roots forming a plate near the soil surface [1-2]. The root pattern is a heart root, dividing from the crown into several primary roots going down and out [1-2]. The root pattern is fibrous dividing into a large number of fine roots [1-2].

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Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed[80, 113]. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors[80, 164]. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 - 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year[164]. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification[80, 164]. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more[164]. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame[188]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage[78]. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months[78].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Botanical References

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Readers comment

Austin   Sat Apr 08 11:01:47 2000

Your entry states that Cornus Florida height is 6' and width 8'. This absolutely incorrect. It's a tree for Pete's sake. It gets at least 30' tall in Florida.

Tom   Mon May 24 00:31:45 2004

Austin, I'm pretty sure the entry reads 6m-8m. Check your metric conversion chart.

   Thu Dec 22 2005

any info on where and among whom we find the dogwood crucifixion legend?

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