Botanical Name

Cornus florida

Year Adopted

1918

Peak Bloom

April to June

History

The name “dog-tree” was used in 1548 and then Dogwood cemented its current name in 1614.

Fun Fact

Dogs afflicted with mange were treated using a wash created by boiling the Dogwood’s bark, hence the tree’s name.

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Few states can claim their state flower was a favorite of one of America’s founding fathers; but Virginia can! Thomas Jefferson grew American Dogwood on the grounds of his Virginia estate Monticello in the 1770s.

It was this connection to Virginia’s history that state lawmakers had in mind when they selected the American Dogwood as the Virginia state flower in 1918. Legislators hoped the choice would “stimulate an interest in the history and traditions of the Commonwealth.”

Many refer to the American Dogwood as a flower, but Virginia’s state flower is actually a tree. In fact, Virginia is the only state to have the same state flower and state tree. When the Dogwood blooms in springtime, it is hard to miss. The delightful, showy flowers emerge in white, pink or red.

At its full growth, the Dogwood can reach 30-40 feet high. Its trunk is covered by a block-like bark that helps to distinguish the Dogwood from other trees when it is not in bloom. These blooms on Dogwarood are actually not flowers at all, but bracts that attract pollinators toward the tree’s true flowers. The Dogwood’s true blooms are small, yellow flowers which grow in a cluster at the center of the bracts. When pollinated, the fertilized ovaries at the center of the flowers produce oval green fruit.

While it blooms in springtime, Virginia’s state flower is splendid year round. Flowers from the Dogwood disappear in summer leaving an attractive dark green behind. In fall, the Dogwood’s leaves offer a dazzling display of color in red, orange and scarlet, and its berries are a colorful red. Even in winter, the Dogwood’s buds give the tree an elegant silhouette.

While its attractive nature makes the Dogwood a top choice for Virginia’s gardeners, Virginians honor the tree in other ways too, the Dogwood name appears throughout the state, from Dogwood Harbor in Chesapeake to Dogwood Street in Virginia Beach. There is no doubt Thomas Jefferson would approve!

Growing Information

Soil

Well-drained

Sun

Full Sun/Partial Shade

Zones

5 - 9