Its name derives from the Latin corneus, meaning horn, for its hard, strong and shock resistant wood; and florida for its floral abundance early in the spring.
Four large greenish-white bracts, neither petals or sepals but “tepals” notched with deep burgundy at the apex, surround a cluster of approximately 20 tiny inconspicuous flowers. Each of these has four yellowish green petals and vermillion stamens making up an umbel-shaped inflorescence. The flowers are bisexual.
According to folklore Christ was nailed to a cross made of Dogwood. Sensing the tree’s regret, he decreed that never again would dogwoods be large enough to serve for crucifixion; its flowers would represent the cross with 2 bracts longer and 2 smaller ones; the deep red tips would remind us of blood-stains where nails had pierced his flesh; a crown-of-thorns rested in the center. Continue for larger image “Cornus florida, 2008” »