Flowering Dogwood

Cornus florida

The flowering dogwood tree, which just so happens to be the state tree of Missouri, is, by far, the most well loved flowering tree in all of North America. It can be found in much of the Eastern U.S. in states such as North Carolina, Massachusetts, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, and even as far west as Texas. They are usually found growing near pine trees or at the edges of deciduous forests.

Dogwoods are categorized as deciduous ornamentals, meaning they lose their leaves annually (during the fall and winter months) and they are cultivated for beauty rather than practical use. For this reason, they are extremely popular landscaping plants. They grow to an average of 15-20 feet, but can reach up to 40 feet if planted in a prime location. It is not uncommon for them to grow wider than they are tall. In order for these trees to thrive, they need partial shade, moist soil rich in organic matter, and a good ground cover to protect their shallow roots. If properly cared for, they can survive to be nearly 80 years of age.

There are numerous varieties of dogwood trees, but the flowering dogwood species can be found in three colors: white (the most common), pink, and red. Their gorgeous four petal blossoms are one of the first signs of spring, as the flowers appear in late March and last into mid or late April. The tiny yellow flowers that make up the center of each blossom become ½ inch red berries that last until December. This fruit serves as a snack for squirrels, deer, and nearly 30 species of birds. During spring and summer, the leaves are dark green with pale green undersides. During fall and winter, however, the leaves become deep reddish purple. The bark of the dogwood is rough and the wood is very hard.

Shagbark Hickory

Carya ovata

The shagbark hickory is the most common hickory north of the Missouri River and occupies much of the eastern United States. The name shagbark describes the unique, smooth planks that cover the tree, curving outward and peeling away from the trunk, giving it a jagged and shaggy appearance. It is a deciduous tree and a member of the walnut family. The tree produces nuts 1-2.5 inches in diameter with a 1/2 inch husk. The nuts are a favorite of squirrels and other rodents, but are also sold commercially for human consumption. The leaves, which are medium green to yellow green in color, are 8-14 inches long and usually have 5 (sometimes 7) football shaped leaflets. Hickories prefer moist soil, but they have an extremely high tolerance for drought so they can thrive in dry forests as well. With enough water and plenty of full sun, shagbarks can grow to be 100 feet tall and 40 feet wide. The extremely hard wood is commonly used to make, ax, hammer, and hatchet handles, furniture, and smoked meats.

 

White Oak

Quercus alba

The white oak is the most important hard wood and lumber tree in Missouri and the entire United States. It grows from the western border of Missouri, Arkansas, and Iowa, covering the eastern half of the U.S. It is not, however, found on the coasts of Louisianna and Alabama, in Florida, or in the Northern parts of Maine and New York. It is an extremely strong and resilient tree that can tolerate a wide variety of climates. The climate across the wide area it occupies ranges from 45-70 degrees fahrenheit, 30-80 inches of precipitation, and 1-70 inches of snow. The oak is capable of growing
on sandy plains, gravelly ridges, rich uplands, coves, and moist soil, though the spot must be deep enough for the thick roots to take hold.

White oaks grow very slowly, but can reach heights of 80-150 feet with an 85 foot spread. They have an extremely long life span and can live well over 100 years. This deciduous tree is covered with dark green leaves with 5-7 rounded, fingerlike lobes in the spring and summer months. The bark of the white oak is light gray and rough with long, loose scales. The bark tends to appear blockier on older trees. Oak trees also produce ¾ inch long, shiny brown acorns with thick warty caps. Flowers called catkins (drooping, caterpillar like strands) appear anytime from late March to late May depending on the region. Not only does the white oak make great whisky barrels, hardwood flooring, and lumber, it also provides food and shelter for wildlife.