The native Dogwood (Cornus florida) lives as an understory tree, growing between the lower shrubs and the upper tree canopy...
It grows 15' - 30' in height, is short-trunked, dividing low, with slender spreading branches forming a flat-topped crown.
In SW Michigan, the Flowering Dogwood reaches its northern limit in our Grand River Valley. Found in Oak and Beech-Maple forests.
These spectacular white blossoms you are viewing are not blossoms!
Botanical truth: these are four, white notched bracts that resemble petals.
That cherry-colored notch on each bract used to be a bud scale; a protective winter covering for the future flower.
These showy white bracts, conspicuous from a distance, attract insects for pollination.
The true flowers are in the center. Greenish-yellow and tube-shaped before opening.
Try to recall your Biology or Botany classes. These are bisexual flowers -
having both male and female sex organs; also called a perfect flower.
Dogwood leaves are arranged opposite, as opposed to alternate. Their petioles (leaf stems) are short and grooved.
Leaves are clustered at the ends of slender twigs:
How to age a tree twig? In this next photo:
- Start from where the twig divides into two
- Count each half-inch segment: 4 segments = 4 years growth
- Newly emerging pair of leaves = 5th year, for that twig's age