Flowering Dogwoods

Each spring, flowering dogwoods display showy white and pink flower-like bracts, which are actually modified leaves. Dogwood flowers are the small yellow-green clusters at the center of the bracts. 

Flowering dogwoods, Cornus florida are showy in the month of April while the kousa dogwoods, Cornus kousa are at their best in the month of May. Both are members of the family Cornaceae.

The Garden has over 250 specimens of the native Cornus florida, which is the Missouri state tree. In the Cherbonnier English Woodland Garden, there are over 100 flowering dogwoods, including cultivars such as the white-bract bearing 'Cherokee Princess' and the rose-colored 'Cherokee Chief.' There are also over a dozen Cornus florida f. rubra plants, which bloom with pink bracts.

The Japanese Garden contains several dozen flowering dogwoods, including the Asian native, Cornus kousa. The kousa dogwood flowers later than the American dogwood, with bracts that have a more angular or pointed shape. Cornus kousa var. chinensis has been included in the Plants of MeritTM program as a disease- and frost-resistant flowering tree.

Recently bred hybrids between C. florida and C. kousa have improved cultural and aesthetic characteristics. The Garden displays several of these new cultivars, including 'Rutgan' STELLAR PINK and 'Rutcan' CONSTELLATION, both located in the Woodland Garden as well as other gardens.

Visit the Garden this spring to test your botany skills by distinguishing between the flower and the bract on one of our flowering dogwoods.