Nature’s Notebook

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Photo for species Cornus_florida

Due to its hard, strong, heavy, fine-grained, and shock-resistant wood, Cornus florida was used for shuttles in textile manufacturing, and is used for tool handles, and tool parts. It is also used for golf clubs, roller-skate wheels, knitting needles, and similar items. In addition, it is a very valuable species for wildlife; all parts of the plant are used as food by various animals (the fruits are poisonous to humans, but not to animals).

Photo Credit:
© R.A. Howard, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution, Dept. of Systematic Biology, Botany.

Cornus florida

flowering dogwood
What does this species look like?
What does this species look like?: 

Flowering dogwood is a deciduous, multi-trunked, shrub to small tree growing 10 to 55 feet tall. Its tiny, yellow flowers are inconspicuous, and have both male and female parts. The flowers are clustered in the center and surrounded by four large, white or pinkish bracts that look like petals, rendering it very showy. Flowering occurs when plants mature at about 6 years of age, and are insect-pollinated.

Flowering dogwood favors well-drained, light upland soils to deep, moist soils. It is often found in mesic deciduous woods, on floodplains, lower to middle slopes, and bluffs, in ravines, and along streams. It is very shade tolerant, and is reportedly sensitive to drought and flooding.

Where is this species found?
States & Provinces: 
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, ON, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WV
Special Considerations for Observing

 If drought seems to be the cause of leaf color or fall for a plant, please make a comment about it for that observation.

Which phenophases should I observe?
Leaves

Do you see...?

Breaking leaf buds
One or more breaking leaf buds are visible on the plant. A leaf bud is considered "breaking" once a green leaf tip is visible at the end of the bud, but before the first leaf from the bud has unfolded to expose the leaf stalk (petiole) or leaf base.

How many buds are breaking?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

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Leaves
One or more live, unfolded leaves are visible on the plant. A leaf is considered "unfolded" once its entire length has emerged from a breaking bud, stem node or growing stem tip, so that the leaf stalk (petiole) or leaf base is visible at its point of attachment to the stem. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves.

What percentage of the potential canopy space is full with leaves? Ignore dead branches in your estimate of potential canopy space.

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

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Increasing leaf size
A majority of leaves on the plant have not yet reached their full size and are still growing larger. Do not include new leaves that continue to emerge at the ends of elongating stems throughout the growing season.

What percentage of full size are most leaves?

Less than 25%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

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Colored leaves
One or more leaves show some of their typical late-season color, or yellow or brown due to drought or other stresses. Do not include small spots of color due to minor leaf damage, or dieback on branches that have broken. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves that remain on the plant. For Cornus florida, ignore the red color that leaves growing in full sun develop in the spring or summer. This red pigment develops to protect the leaves from the sun and does not indicate the leaf is dying (senescing).

What percentage of the potential canopy space is full with non-green leaf color? Ignore dead branches in your estimate of potential canopy space.

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

More...

Falling leaves
One or more leaves are falling or have recently fallen from the plant. More...

Flowers

Do you see...?

Flowers or flower buds
One or more fresh open or unopened flowers or flower buds are visible on the plant. Include flower buds or inflorescences that are swelling or expanding, but do not include those that are tightly closed and not actively growing (dormant). Also do not include wilted or dried flowers.

How many flowers and flower buds are present? For species in which individual flowers are clustered in flower heads, spikes or catkins (inflorescences), simply estimate the number of flower heads, spikes or catkins and not the number of individual flowers.

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

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Open flowers
One or more open, fresh flowers are visible on the plant. Flowers are considered "open" when the reproductive parts (male stamens or female pistils) are visible between or within unfolded or open flower parts (petals, floral tubes or sepals). Do not include wilted or dried flowers. For Cornus florida, ignore the four large, white bracts and watch for the opening of the small flowers in the center of the bracts.

What percentage of all fresh flowers (buds plus unopened plus open) on the plant are open? For species in which individual flowers are clustered in flower heads, spikes or catkins (inflorescences), estimate the percentage of all individual flowers that are open.

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

More...

Fruits

Do you see...?

Fruits
One or more fruits are visible on the plant. For Cornus florida, the fruit is berry-like and changes from green to bright red.

How many fruits are present?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

More...

Ripe fruits Image of Ripe fruits
One or more ripe fruits are visible on the plant. For Cornus florida, a fruit is considered ripe when it has turned bright red.

What percentage of all fruits (unripe plus ripe) on the plant are ripe?

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

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Recent fruit or seed drop
One or more mature fruits or seeds have dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit. Do not include obviously immature fruits that have dropped before ripening, such as in a heavy rain or wind, or empty fruits that had long ago dropped all of their seeds but remained on the plant.

How many mature fruits have dropped seeds or have completely dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

More...