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Cornus florida - L.                
                 
Common Name Flowering Dogwood
Family Cornaceae
Synonyms Benthamidia florida. Cynoxylon floridum.
Known Hazards There is a report that the fruit is poisonous for humans[229].
Habitats Rich well-drained soils in acidic woods to 1500 metres[43, 82]. An understorey tree in dry deciduous woods[82, 222].
Range Eastern N. America - Maine to Florida, east to Kansas and Texas.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of shrub
Cornus florida is a deciduous Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cornus florida Flowering Dogwood


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Ram-Man
Cornus florida Flowering Dogwood
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Habitats       
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Drink.

Fruit - cooked. The fruit is not poisonous, but is almost inedible raw[226]. When the seed is removed and the flesh is mashed, it can be mixed with other fruits and made into jams, jellies etc[226]. The fruit, when infused in 'Eau de Vie' makes a bitter but acceptable drink[4]. One report says that the fruit is poisonous for humans[229]. The fruit is borne in clusters, each fruit being up to 15mm in diameter with a thin mealy bitter flesh[229]. The fruit is high in lipids, uo to 35% of dry weight[274].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anthelmintic;  Antidiarrhoeal;  Antiperiodic;  Appetizer;  Astringent;  Bitter;  Diaphoretic;  Poultice;  Stimulant;  Tonic.

Flowering dogwood was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who valued it especially for its astringent and antiperiodic properties[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism. The dried root-bark is antiperiodic, astringent, diaphoretic, mildly stimulant and tonic[4, 46, 61, 95, 257]. The flowers are said to have similar properties[4]. A tea or tincture of the astringent root bark has been used as a quinine substitute to treat malaria[95, 222, 257] and also in the treatment of chronic diarrhoea[222]. The bark has also been used as a poultice on external ulcers, wounds etc[222, 257]. The glycoside 'cornin' found in the bark has astringent properties[213]. The inner bark was boiled and the tea drunk to reduce fevers and to restore a lost voice[213, 257]. A compound infusion of the bark and the root has been used in the treatment of various childhood diseases such as measles and worms[257]. It was often used in the form of a bath[257]. The fruits are used as a bitter digestive tonic[222]. A tincture of them has been used to restore tone to the stomach in cases of alcoholism[4].
Other Uses
Brush;  Dye;  Ink;  Repellent;  Teeth;  Wood.

A red dye is obtained from the fibrous root[4, 95]. The peeled twigs are used as toothbrushes, they are good for whitening the teeth[4, 95, 102]. The juice from the twigs preserves and hardens the gums[4]. The twigs can also be chewed to make natural paintbrushes[102]. A black ink can be made from the bark mixed with gum arabic and iron sulphate[4]. The bark is very bitter, could it be used to make an insect or bird repellent[K]? Wood - hard, heavy, strong, close grained, durable, takes a good polish and is extremely shock-resistant. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot and is used for making wheel hubs, tool handles, the heads of golf clubs, bearings, turnery etc[4, 46, 61, 82, 102, 171, 227].
Cultivation details                                         
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any soil of good or moderate fertility[1], ranging from acid to shallow chalk[200]. Dislikes shallow clay soils and chalky soils[98, 182]. Requires a neutral to acid soil according to another report[202]. Prefers a rich loamy well-drained soil[98]. Succeeds in full sun or light shade[[188]. Plants can be trained to grow against a wall when they prefer a position in light shade[202]. Plants are very hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°c. but they are subject to damage by late frosts and are rarely successful away from the warmer counties of Britain[11, 200]. They require a long hot humid summer if they are to grow well, doing best in the east or south-east of Britain[182, 200] in areas that are not subject to late or early frosts. They do not generally do very well in the south-west, where the flower bracts are often damaged by frosts[200]. Medium to fast growing when young, but slowing with age[202]. Trees are short-lived[229]. A very ornamental plant, there are many named varieties[200, 202]. It is the state flower of Virginia[212]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed[80, 113]. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors[80, 164]. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 - 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year[164]. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification[80, 164]. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more[164]. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame[188]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage[78]. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months[78].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
1143200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[43]Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany.
A bit dated but good and concise flora of the eastern part of N. America.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[78]Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
[80]McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed.
Does not deal with many species but it is very comprehensive on those that it does cover. Not for casual reading.
[82]Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America.
Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader.
[95]Saunders. C. F. Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada.
Useful wild plants of America. A pocket guide.
[98]Gordon. A. G. and Rowe. D. C. f. Seed Manual for Ornamental Trees and Shrubs.
Very comprehensive guide to growing trees and shrubs from seed. Not for the casual reader.
[102]Kavasch. B. Native Harvests.
Another guide to the wild foods of America.
[113]Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
[164]Bird. R. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 4.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. A good article on Yuccas, one on Sagebrush (Artemesia spp) and another on Chaerophyllum bulbosum.
[171]Hill. A. F. Economic Botany.
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some a bit of detail about the plants it does cover.
[182]Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos.
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.
[188]Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[202]Davis. B. Climbers and Wall Shrubs.
Contains information on 2,000 species and cultivars, giving details of cultivation requirements. The text is terse but informative.
[212]Craighead. J., Craighead. F. and Davis. R. A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers
Excellent little pocket guide to the area, covering 590 species and often giving details of their uses.
[213]Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food.
A nice book to read though it is difficult to look up individual plants since the book is divided into separate sections dealing with the different medicinal uses plus a section on edible plants. Common names are used instead of botanical.
[222]Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
[226]Lauriault. J. Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada
Very good on identification for non-experts, the book also has a lot of information on plant uses.
[227]Vines. R.A. Trees of North Texas
A readable guide to the area, it contains descriptions of the plants and their habitats with quite a bit of information on plant uses.
[229]Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
[274]Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas
An excellent flora, which is also available on-line.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Austin Sat Apr 08 11:01:47 2000
Your entry states that Cornus Florida height is 6' and width 8'. This absolutely incorrect. It's a tree for Pete's sake. It gets at least 30' tall in Florida.
Elizabeth H.
Tom Mon May 24 00:31:45 2004
Austin, I'm pretty sure the entry reads 6m-8m. Check your metric conversion chart.
Elizabeth H.
Thu Dec 22 2005
any info on where and among whom we find the dogwood crucifixion legend?
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