The Flowering Dogwood is a wild plant as well as one of the most popular trees intentionally
planted in yards. It is a sub-canopy tree with blocky bark, opposite simple leaves, and white or
pink “flowers,” although actually the petaloid bracts are the showy part and the flowers are a
tight bunch of yellow petals in the center of the bracts. The drupes provide food for birds and
other creatures in the Fall.
Linnaeus gave us the name Cornus florida, which was in use until the 2020 edition of Weakley’s
Flora of the Southeastern United States, when the genus Cornus was separated into three
- Benthamidia is the genus for Flowering and Kousa Dogwoods
- Chamaepericlymenum is now the genus for Dwarf Dogwood
- Swida is the genus for all the other dogwoods of South Carolina, including the Alternate-
leaf Dogwood, Silky Dogwood, Eastern Rough-leaf Dogwood ,and S. Swamp Dogwood
So the Flowering Dogwood is now called Benthamidia florida.
As April unfolds, the Flowering Dogwood is in its prime. Its flowering around Easter has often
been remarked upon by those of the Christian faith, who have noted that the four showy bracts
have two small and two large ones, resembling the shape of a cross; the tip of each bract is
indented as if pierced by a nail. The edges of the indentations are even stained red, and the
central cluster of flowers resembles a crown of thorns!
So, Happy Easter! And wear a dogwood flower on your bonnet at the Easter Parade!