dogwood tree identification

Usually encountered individually, the dogwoods sprayed with their false flowers or fiery in fall foliage boldly stand out in such shadowy, somber forests. They usually bloom in March and April, and each flower has four large bracts that can be white or pink. If it’s early spring, examine the bracts on the tree. If it’s late in the summer or early fall, look for fruits on the tree. In the coastal ranges and valleys of north-central California, two species are most likely to be encountered in wildland rambles: the widespread red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) and the more sparsely distributed Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) of the highlands.

All Rights Reserved. That means that the leaves appear in spring, do their photosynthesis magic in summer and then fall in winter. Pacific dogwood boasts richly beautiful “false petals” in the form of snow-white leaf bracts; these surround the true flowers, which are minute and inconspicuous. Red-osier foliage consists of large, generally lanceolate or elliptical leaves 2 to 4 inches long and up to 2 inches wide, with pointed tips and an entire margin. You can often register red-osier dogwood thickets at a significant distance as a hazy crimson band along wetland margins, often strongly contrasting with yellow-stemmed willows. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! The dogwood is a deciduous broadleaf tree, which means that it loses its leaves during the winter. Look at the stature and form of the shrub or tree. 12 Species of Dogwood Trees and Shrubs Canadian Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis). How to Tell the Difference Between Ash & Chestnut, Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation: Cornus sericea, US Department of Agriculture: Cornus nuttallii, King County: Native Plant Guide - Red-osier Dogwood, The Difference Between California Sycamore and American Sycamore, Strawberry Tree - Arbutus Marina Information. Pacific dogwood usually manifests as a small tree... Foliage. Don't eat them. He has written extensively on outdoor recreation, ecology and earth science for outlets such as Backpacker Magazine, the Bureau of Land Management and Atlas Obscura. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. Examine the leaves, if they’re present; both Pacific and red-osier dogwood are deciduous. Examine the stems that the leaves are attached to. Dogwoods are easy-care trees that do not need special care. The fruits turn bright red in the early fall. They don’t have lobes, nor are they shaped like fans. In both species, five or so prominent, curving veins flank the midvein. Analyze the shape of a single leaf. The Best Time to Plant Dogwood Trees in Houston, Texas→.

At the tip of each bract, there’s a notch. In winter, dogwoods drop their leaves, exposing the structure of the tree.

If you've inherited a tree that you think might be a dogwood, you can easily identify it by its unique leaves, blossoms, berries and bark. Ethan Shaw is a writer and naturalist living in Oregon. Dogwood trees grow opposite one another. Bracts are modified leaves that surround the true flowers, which on a dogwood are small, yellowish-green, and in the center of the bigger, more showy bracts.

Dogwood trees in spring are more easily identified by their fragrant flowers. If it’s fall, check the color of the leaves. Red-osier dogwood is a medium-size shrub – usually no taller than 15 feet or so – and commonly forms thickets. Check to see whether the leaves grow exactly opposite one another on each side of the stem, or whether there are spaces between them, so that they appear to alternate in position.


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