Facts about the Dogwood Blossom
Dogwood trees are among the most popular in the world and the most loved characteristic is the dogwood blossom. People will travel hundreds of miles in the spring just to see the dogwood blossom. It is one of the most popular landscaping trees solely for its spectacular spring flowers.
Many people think that the dogwood blossom is the colored part of the bloom, but it is not. The dogwood tree is one of those trees where the colored part of what looks like the flower is actually the leaf. These colored leaves are known as bract and the flower is what is right in the center of the bract. The bract can be several colors--pink in different shades all the way to red, plus white. The actual flower in the middle of the bract is greenish-yellow in color and produces the seeds of the plant.
The southern version of the dogwood tree is somewhat taller than the dogwoods you find as you head towards the northeast. They can grow to be as tall as forty feet. Dogwood is extremely hard wood and is used to make such wood products as baseball bats, spools, shingles, dowels and shuttlecocks. Other parts of the dogwood tree have had other uses. For instance, tea was made from the bark and used to treat fevers and it was added to tobacco by Native Americans.
The dogwood blossom and/or tree are the state flower or tree of several states, including New Jersey, Virginia, and North Carolina and the Canadian province of British Columbia. During World War II, dogwood pins were sold which were used to purchase comforts for Soldiers from British Colombia. You can see the dogwood blossom on the coat of arms of British Columbia as well.
Americans can see a flowering dogwood on the grounds of the White House. Former President and Mrs. Clinton planted one there in memory of all the people who died in the Oklahoma City Bombing. The dogwood tree in history is said to have been the tree of which the cross of Jesus was made. The four petals of the dogwood blossom or bract are said to form the shape of a cross.
If you want to plant a dogwood tree of your own, be aware they like to have some very specific growing conditions. Good soil is a must and such a big concern that some people even add beneficial fungi to their soil to keep the tree happy. If you want to have beautiful dogwood blossoms year after year, you will need to fertilize when you plant the tree and then frequently throughout the year. The best thing you can do is get your soil tested and talk with someone at the nursery or county agricultural extension office about how to best add nutrients to your soil.
Overall, dogwoods like slightly acidic soil and the best time to plant them is in the spring. Because the dogwood prefers moist conditions, they have to be hand-watered or watered under a sprinkler if conditions get too dry.
The flowering dogwood tree is susceptible to many diseases and pests. One of the worst is dogwood anthracnose. It starts out with small brown spots on the leaves, which get larger and then form cankers on the branches. The cankers will kill the tree. If you have only a few trees and the disease is caught early enough, there are fungicides which should help you to save the tree or trees. The dogwood borer is the worst pest and can be controlled by use of insecticides.
If you do decide to plant a dogwood tree, purchase certified nursery stock. Wild dogwoods are notorious for diseases and you can easily spread the diseases to other plants.