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There are four dogwoods in the Park. See Wikipedia entry here.
The dogwoods have red or white flowers in the spring and reddish-purple leaves in the fall. The glossy red fruit provides food for songbirds. Stems are a soft gray and the bark is scaly.
Two Cornus florida dogwoods in the southeast triangle in May, looking west. A tall redbud is behind these two dogwoods with a black pine at far right.
There are about 60 species in this genus, including the popular ornamentals Cornus florida and Cornus kousa.
Although nondescript in summer, they are notable for the profusion of spring flowers and their late summer berries.
Legend has it that Christ was crucified on wood from a dogwood tree, and the flowers can be deconstructed into "...four white bracts cross-shaped representing the four corners of the cross, each bearing a rusty indentation as of a nail, the red stamens of the flower representing Jesus' crown of thorns, and the clustered red fruit representing his blood." (from Wikipedia).
Our dogwoods in the southwest triangle are Cornus florida, which develop elongated single berry-like fruit in late summer. Unlike most other dogwoods, this species has inedible fruits. There are two Cornus kousa in the northwest triangle. The fruits are more globular and the species is more resistant to disease. There are two kousa dogwoods at the 18th Street entrance to the North x Northwest apartments that have large red berry-like fruit.
The scientific classification of any organism is always subject to change as we learn more about relationships, especially today using DNA evidence. Cornus florida is now Benthamidia florida;
Cornus kousa is now Benthamidia japonica. Most scientists still use the Cornus genus out of habit.
Clusters of elongated fruits, each containing one seed, on dogwood in southeast triangle in July.
Dogwood in northwest triangle in July
Dogwood in southwest triangle on April 15
Flowers from the dogwood in southwest triangle on April 15
The four white bracts surround the clump of unopened flowers in the middle. Bracts are specialized leaves, not really part of the reproductive flower structure, and are thought to serve as an attraction to pollinators.
Dogwood flowers in early May. Dogwoods, like redbuds, have perfect flowers containing both male and female parts. These two species are the most common in the Park.
Botany 101 Bonus
About 80% of flowering plants are pollinated by animals. For example, the dogwoods and the redbuds in the Park are pollinated by bees. The flowers bloom in late April when it is warm enough for bees to be active. These flowers may be colorful to attract bees, and also offer some sweet nectar to feed the bees. Essentially, trees can't move so they have to offer food for sex. Other animal pollinators include butterflies, moths, birds, flies, and beetles.
Other flowering trees rely on the wind to carry the male pollen to the female ovaries. In our Park, the maples and the red oak are examples. These tend to bloom earlier, especially the red maples, before the insects are out for the season. The male pollen is tiny and lightweight and the stigmas, the female reception protuberances, are often sticky.
The conifers in the Park are not flowering trees, but are also wind-pollinated. Check out the six-second video on the black pine page.
For a brief summary on flowers and pollination, see outside link here.
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