The Flowering Dogwood’s (Pacific Dogwood) blossom is BC’s floral emblem, and it’s illegal to pick the flowers. They are small trees when mature, up to 15 metres tall with glossy dark green leaves that turn orange in the fall. Dogwoods usually flower in spring, with a second bloom in the fall, in clusters of small white flowers, offering a feast for pollinators. Watch for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. After blooming, small dark red berries appear that are edible, but bitter. The berries are food for quail, grosbeaks, thrushes and those beautiful cedar waxwings that everyone wants to photograph. The fine-grained hard wood can be used for carving and has been used for piano keys, and dark brown dye can be made by boiling the bark. The bark is also rich in tannin and has been used as a preservative.
Flowering Dogwood trees make fabulous additions to back yard gardens. They are native trees well suited for southwest BC’s growing zones. They like deep well drained soil and often grow under the protective canopy of Douglas-Fir and Western Hemlock. Consider implementing them in your landscape designs. They are easily manageable, but are susceptible to fungus leaf blotch. Clearing away fallen debris and spraying with lime sulphur in the winter reduces the chance of dogwood leaf botch infection.