Cornus Florida

Cornus florida

Cornus florida
Common name: Flowering dogwood

About Cornus florida

Cornus florida is a deciduous understory tree native to North America. Flowering dogwood is loved by gardeners for its early flowering, its graceful shape, and its fall foliage color. See :Dogwood Tree for more information.


The flowers of Cornus florida can be white, pink or yellow. They often bloom in early spring before the leaves appear. The fruit is red. Fall foliage is red or bronze.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom - Plantae
Division - Magnoliophyta
Class - Magnoliopsida
Order - Cornales
Family - Cornaceae
Genus - Cornus


 dogwood is an understory tree

Since its native habitat is in the dappled shade of larger trees, it is not surprising that flowering dogwood prefers to be grown in partial shade. It grows taller in shade, up to forty feet, and has a more open and graceful growth habit. It will be smaller, perhaps only as tall as fifteen feet, when grown in full sun, although it may flower more heavily. Its spread is usually slightly greater than its height. This tree is a slow to moderate grower, but it may grow more quickly in shade.


Flowering dogwood is recommended for use in screens, as a border accent, or as a specimen.

Varieties to Grow

'Apple Blossom' - light pink flowers
'Autumn Gold' - white flowers, yellow fall foliage, orangeish twigs
'Bay Beauty' - double, white flowers
'Cherokee Chief' - dark red flowers, new growth is red; bronze fall foliage
'Cherokee Princess' - large, white flower, red fall foliage
'Cherokee Brave' - red flowers
'Cherokee Sunset' - purplish red flowers, variegated green and yellow summer foliage that does not burn; pink to red to purple fall foliage
'Golden Nugget' - white flowers, green and bronzy-yellow foliage
'Hohman's Gold' - white flowers, variegated green and yellow summer foliage; spectacular deep, red fall foliage
'Ozark Spring' - small white flowers; grows six feet tall
'Purple Glory' - dark red flowers, maroon to purple summer foliage, dark purple fall foliage
'Royal Red' - large, deep red flowers, blood red new leaves; deep red fall foliage
'Stokes Pink' - pink flowers
'Sweetwater Red' - red flowers, reddish summer foliage, red-purple fall foliage


Cornus florida is susceptible to many diseases and pests. Good air circulation helps to prevent disease.

The dogwood borer will attack newly planted specimens, trees in poor health and those damaged by impact (usually from lawn mowers or weed trimmers). Provide mulch beneath the tree to reduce mechanical damage as well as to keep the soil moist, but do not put the mulch directly against the tree's trunk.

Other problem insects include borers, scale and leaf miner. Crown canker, powdery mildew and leaf-spotting fungi will also attack flowering dogwood.

Dogwood anthracnose (Discula destructiva), a fungal disease, has killed many flowering dogwoods. If you garden in an area where the fungus is known to be present, consider planting Kousa or Pacific dogwood instead.

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