Fleur de Cornus florida L. (fr:Cornouiller blanc) in Arboretum de la Vallée-aux-Loups by Liné1Photo by Liné1

Fast Facts

  • Proclaimed North Carolina’s state flower in 1941
  • Botanical name: Cornus florida
  • Also known as the American boxwood or cornel
  • Flowering dogwood trivia: Native Americans used the bark of the roots of flowering dogwood to reduce fevers and aches
  • North Carolina Flower Delivery

Residents of North Carolina who love are a lucky bunch; the North Carolina state flower isn’t just spectacular for a few weeks of the year, it is gorgeous all year long. The flowering dogwood blooms in springtime, turning hills and mountainsides across the state a snowy white, light pink or red. The dogwood’s delightful show continues into summer. As its showy flowers drop, the tree’s dark green foliage stands out. In autumn, the dogwood is a dazzling display of orange, red and scarlet leaves and clusters of dangling red berries. And each winter, button-shaped buds emerge from the tree’s twigs, creating a beautiful wintertime silhouette.

White Dogwood tree forest by Forest WanderPhoto by ForestWander

Of course, North Carolina’s state flower is not really a flower but a small tree on which flowers grow. At maturity, the flowering dogwood reaches heights between 30-40 feet. Its trunk is covered with small, block-like bark. According to some stories, a wash made with the bark of the English dogwood cured dogs with mange, offering a possible explanation for the tree’s name. Interestingly, too, the “flowers” that most associate with the North Carolina state flower are not flowers but attractive, notched bracts designed to lure pollinators toward the tree’s true flowers. These small, yellow blooms are located in a tight cluster at the center of the bracts. After a flower is pollinated, its bracts droop and fall and its fertilized ovaries form a cluster of small fruits. In autumn, the red fruit of the dogwood is a favorite for birds, which distribute the dogwood’s seeds.

Legislators noted the dogwood’s ubiquitous presence throughout the state when they designated it as the North Carolina’s state flower in 1941. The dogwood is found from mountains in the state’s west to its coast, as well as in the Piedmont region between the two. In the residential suburbs of Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte, flowers from the dogwood have graced sumptuous gardens for decades. Indeed, old timers and newcomers alike seem to have a special place in their heart for the North Carolina state flower. Wrote one romantic transplant to the city of Greensboro, flowers from the dogwood in springtime are just like “butterflies hovering in the air”…in a word: lovely.


North Carolina state Horticulture Information leaflets http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-600.html

Duke University: http://www.duke.edu/~cwcook/trees/cofl.html