Dogwood trees are native to the temperate regions of North America. They grow up to 30 feet tall and have a diameter from 2 inches to 4 inches. Their leaves are smooth, oval or ovate with two leaflets at each end. The bark is dark green, smooth and fibrous. A single leaflet may extend over one third of the branch’s circumference, while others may only cover half of it. There are three species of dogwoods: American dogwood (Taxus baccata), Japanese dogwood (Taxus japonica) and California dogwood (Taxus californicum). All three species belong to the same family, Taxaceae.
The common name “dog” refers to their resemblance to dogs; however, they look very different from each other. The petals of all three species resemble those of a rose, but the flowers’ color varies widely among them. The flowers of the American dogwood are most commonly white, yellow or red.
The Japanese dogwood flower is usually blue or purple. Californian dogwood has a violet-blue flower.
The American dogwood (Taxus baccata) is native to North America and grows up to 30 feet high and 6 feet wide. Its bark is light brown, smooth and fibrous, with some spots of darker color. The leaf is dark green and resembles an arrow-head, with two leaflets extending over half the circumference of the branch.
The American dogwood flowers in the spring with a white, yellow or red flower. The flowers appear on panicles from the axils of the leaves and last for three to four weeks. The fruit appears in the summer and is a spherical capsule containing numerous small seeds.
The plant’s wood is hard and yellowish-white in color. It is used to make fishing rods, tool handles and other small wooden objects. Native Americans used the bark as a treatment for menstrual problems and for making cloth, baby clothes and bags from the fibers.
The bark also has been used to make tanning solutions for leather.
The American dogwood is found primarily in eastern North America but also grows from Minnesota south to Texas and west to California. It is typically found in wet areas, swamps and stream banks in wooded areas. It tolerates a wide range of soil types but prefers a loamy soil.
The Japanese dogwood (Taxus japonica) is also called the Japanese tree yew or the Japanese taxus. It grows up to 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide and has a dark brown, rough and fibrous trunk. It is typically wider than it is tall.
The bark is dark brown and rough.
The tree has small, glossy green leaves that grow in clusters of three with each leaflet extending to only half the branch’s circumference. It flowers in spring with white or pink flowers. It grows red berries in the fall.
The trunk of the tree is used medicinally in the production of paclitaxel, also known as Taxol, an antineoplastic drug used to treat ovarian, lung, prostate and other cancers. The bark contains the highest concentration of the drug but the entire tree may be used. It has been used in the treatment of tumors, HIV and Alzheimer’s disease.
It may also be used as a pain reliever.
The tree is susceptible to the bronze birch borer, a type of wood-boring beetle. It is commonly grows in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. In the United States, it grows primarily in Oregon and Washington.
It is very popular as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens. The flowers are white or pink and grow in clusters of three, like most other dogwoods.
The Californian dogwood or Sierra dogwood (Cambodenia californica) is a small tree or large shrub native to California and Oregon. It grows up to 25 feet in height and 8 feet in width. The bark of the tree is a light gray color, with dark horizontal bands.
The leaves are fuzzy and green, with each leaflet extending to less than half the circumference of the branch. It flowers in April through May with white or pink flowers.
The plant has been used medicinally by Native Americans as a treatment for stomach aches. The branches and leaves can be used to make a tea, which takes on a minty flavor. It may also be used as a treatment for fever, diarrhea and other digestive disorders.
The wood of the tree has been used to make tool handles, bows, arrows and other small wooden objects. The small tree is susceptible to insect attacks from the dogwood borer.
The Lombardy poplar or Italian poplar (Populus nigra italica) is a deciduous tree found in Europe and Western Asia. It grows up to 55 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 3 feet. The bark of the tree is light gray in color and smooth at first, then becomes furrowed and darkens with age.
The leaves are green and triangular, with each leaf approximately 2-4 feet long.
Sources & references used in this article:
Accumulation and cycling of calcium by dogwood trees by WA Thomas – Ecological Monographs, 1969 – JSTOR
Dogwood anthracnose in eastern hardwood forests: what is known and what can be done? by E Holzmueller, S Jose, M Jenkins, A Camp… – Journal of …, 2006 – academic.oup.com
Emission of volatile chemicals from flowering dogwood (Cornus florida L.) flowers by X Zhuang, WE Klingeman, J Hu… – Journal of agricultural and …, 2008 – ACS Publications
Distribution of phyllosphere fungi within the canopy of giant dogwood by T Osono, A Mori – Mycoscience, 2004 – Elsevier
The vertical component of plant species diversity in temperate and tropical forests by J Terborgh – The American Naturalist, 1985 – journals.uchicago.edu
Dogwood tree-Rutlan by ER Orton Jr – US Patent App. 07/560,547, 1991 – Google Patents