Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tree ID: Cornus florida

This is my neighbor's flowering dogwood tree, Cornus florida, photographed back in early May. Native to the northeastern US, I love these small ornamental trees in pretty much every season. The white-to-pink spring flower is pretty sensational, the "petals" of which are actually bracts. In a sheltered spot with full sun to light shade and in organic and nutrient-rich soil these trees will do well. Reference books list plenty of pest and disease issues like anthracnose can target these old beauties, but in the right spot with the right cultural care and little extra fuss I have found they can be pretty trouble free. They max out about 25'-30' tall and wide, and ultimately I think they are beautiful. Flowering dogwoods have a unique bark, alligator-like, which proves to be a helpful ID characteristic in winter. This is a specimen from my time in Massachusetts in 2006. Because of their wide range, in terms of space and hardiness, be sure to buy as local as you can for the best results.
They have a nice medium-sized leaf texture in summer and a proportionally pleasing framework to look at through winter. It's fall color comes early compared to the rest of the trees out there. Here are a couple shots of my neighbors tree again, these from mid-October.

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