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Discover Nature: Flowering Dogwood

Pink flowers with white centers adorn brown branches of a pink flowering dogwood tree.
A pink flowering dogwood (Cornus florida, var. rubra) blooms in evening sunlight. Flowering dogwood trees are blooming in Missouri’s woods this week. Get outside and discover nature with the changing sights and smells of spring. ";

In Missouri’s woods this time of year, there’s something new to see every day.


For weeks, redbud blooms have stolen the show, painting pink streaks through the understory, but this week, Missouri’s state tree takes the spotlight. 


Common, especially in the Ozarks, the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) lives along wooded slopes, ravines, bluffs, upland ridges, and successional fields; preferring well-drained, acidic soils, and shade. 


Look for small flowers, surrounded by four, large, white or pink petal-like bracts – in bloom now, before leaves emerge. 


Tree bark is dark-gray to brown with flexible, reddish-gray to purple, or greenish twigs with red dots, and flower buds at the terminal. 


Ranging in size from large-shrub to small-tree, flowering dogwoods are a favorite landscaping choice and have historically been used to make inks, dyes, medicines, golf club heads, and skewers for cooking. 


Fruits appear in late summer and are a preferred food of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and many other bird species including quail. 


Learn more about flowering dogwoods and keep up with other spring changes in the woods with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.


Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Kyle Felling was born in the rugged northwest Missouri hamlet of St. Joseph (where the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended). Inspired from a young age by the spirit of the early settlers who used St. Joseph as an embarkation point in their journey westward, Kyle developed the heart of an explorer and yearned to leave for adventures of his own. Perhaps as a result of attending John Glenn elementary school, young Kyle dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but was disheartened when someone told him that astronauts had to be good at math. He also considered being a tow truck driver, and like the heroes of his favorite childhood television shows (The A-Team and The Incredible Hulk) he saw himself traveling the country, helping people in trouble and getting into wacky adventures. He still harbors that dream.
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