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Flowering Dogwood

Virginia State Tree

Mature dogwood tree in bloom; photo by laura.bell on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution / no derivative works).

Official State Tree of Virginia

Virginia designated flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) as the official state flower in 1918, and as the official state tree in 1956. The native dogwood is also the state tree of Missouri and New Jersey, and the state flower of North Carolina. All State Trees - All State Flowers

Dogwood Tree Facts

The dogwood is a small, deciduous tree with graceful branches that bloom in spring with large showy "flowers" (usually greenish-white, sometimes pink or yellow). What appear as the "petals" of the dogwood flower are actually the bract, or leaves that cover the flowers themselves, which sit in the center. The dogwood develops red berries in autumn, and the leaves also turn a deep red before falling for winter.

The word dogwood stems from dagwood (from the use of the very hard wood for making 'dags,' or daggers). The wood was also valued for making loom shuttles, arrows, tool handles, and other small items that required a very hard, strong wood. Larger items were also made of dogwood such as the screw in basket-style wine or fruit presses.

An earlier name of the dogwood is the whipple-tree. The name "dog-tree" was being used by 1548, and finally dogwood by 1614. Once the name dogwood was used for the tree, it soon acquired a secondary name as the hound's tree, and the fruit became known as dogberries or houndberries. It is possible that the common name of dogwood developed because dogs were washed with a brew from its bark.