In Missouri’s woods this time of year, there’s something new to see every day.
For weeks, redbud blooms have stolen the show, painting pink streaks through the understory, but this week, Missouri’s state tree takes the spotlight.
Common, especially in the Ozarks, the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) lives along wooded slopes, ravines, bluffs, upland ridges, and successional fields; preferring well-drained, acidic soils, and shade.
Look for small flowers, surrounded by four, large, white or pink petal-like bracts – in bloom now, before leaves emerge.
Tree bark is dark-gray to brown with flexible, reddish-gray to purple, or greenish twigs with red dots, and flower buds at the terminal.
Ranging in size from large-shrub to small-tree, flowering dogwoods are a favorite landscaping choice and have historically been used to make inks, dyes, medicines, golf club heads, and skewers for cooking.
Fruits appear in late summer and are a preferred food of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and many other bird species including quail.
Learn more about flowering dogwoods and keep up with other spring changes in the woods with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.