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.