Cornus Florida Rubra

Cornus Florida Rubra – The Pink Flowering Dogwood


Cornus florida rubra is a dogwood tree. It is a flowering dogwood tree. It is a pink flowering dogwood tree, which makes it even more special. Most dogwood trees are deciduous, but a few are evergreen. All dogwood trees have blossoms, and most bear fruit. The berries of a few dogwood trees are edible, though most are not.


A Showy Dogwood Having Inconspicuous Flowers


As far as flowering dogwood trees are concerned, they can be divided into two categories. The first category consists of those trees whose blossoms are for the most part inconspicuous. The second category consists of those dogwoods having flowers that are somewhat showy. Unless you know your dogwoods well, you may be surprised to find that Cornus florida rubra belongs in the first category, as do a number of other “flowering” dogwoods. The flowers of C. florida rubra are indeed tiny and inconspicuous, and grow in small clumps. What we call the dogwood flowers of this species, are not flowers at all, but are bracts, It is these bracts, typically four in number, which are often large and showy, and in the case of C. florida rubra, also happen to have a lovely pink color.


Dogwoods are scattered throughout North America. The various species range from stately trees to small shrubs, the best known of which may be Cornus canadensis, the Canadian dogwood. In the Pacific states and British Columbia, the Pacific dogwood, Cornus nuttallii holds sway. C. nuttallii is the provincial tree of British Columbia. C. florida rubra, the pink flowering dogwood, grows mostly in the eastern half of the United States, and up into southern Ontario. It is the state tree of Virginia and Missouri, and the state flower of Virginia and North Carolina. While the pink flowering dogwood was at one time seldom seen west of the state of Missouri, it has since spread westward across Kansas and north Texas, and into Utah, Nevada, eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, and parts of Idaho. While this dogwood is now quite widely scattered, it is not considered to be at all invasive, although it does grow in the wild, in particular in the eastern states.


Characteristics Of The Pink Flowering Dogwood


C. florida rubra is hardy in USDA Zones 5 though 9. It is a small to medium-sized tree, topping out at anywhere from 15 to 30 feet, and has a spread roughly equal to its height. The shape of this tree could best be described as rounded, although it is not a particularly compact tree. The rounded shape is due to the fact that the tree’s upper branches tend to grow in a somewhat upright direction, while the lower branches tend to grow in more of a horizontal direction. On mature trees, the lower branches will occasionally droop to the ground. The inner branches, when viewed through the blossoms, when the tree is in bloom, can be quite a stunning sight, as the dark bark stands in sharp contrast against the light pink blossoms. The blooming time for this dogwood is normally in April, but in some regions the tree blooms during the month of May. As mentioned previously, the pink “flowers” are really bracts, which will vary in color from light pink to a very reddish pink. The yellowish green centers of the blooms consist of tiny, tightly packed flowers, which are indeed rather inconspicuous. The bracts themselves are somewhat flat, and when opened, produce a blossom that can be up to 4” in diameter. Both bees and butterflies are attracted to this dogwood when it is in bloom. Songbirds are apt to be seen around this dogwood much of the time during the spring and summer months, and other birds, such as waxwings and cardinals, will feed on the berries during the late fall and winter months.



This dogwood species bears bright red fruits, but it is not one of the species whose berries are edible. Its berries are in fact poisonous to humans, but not to the birds, who feast on them. While grown primarily as a flowering tree, the pink dogwood is nevertheless an attractive tree, even when not in bloom. The foliage puts on a show during the late fall as the leaves turn first from deep green to mottled yellow, and eventually to a deep rose color. The pink flowering dogwood makes a fine specimen tree.


Growing Pink Dogwoods


Propagation can be accomplished by collecting and sowing the seeds, but most commonly is done through softwood cuttings. This dogwood tree can be planted in most soils, although it will not tolerate soil that is in any way salty, or soil that is constantly heavy and wet. This dogwood tree is moderately drought tolerant, and will do well in either full sun or in light shade. While it is generally an easy tree to care for once it is established, it is susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, a characteristic it shares with many other dogwood species. The general consensus among those who are familiar with Cornus florida rubra is that more of them should be planted.

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