From Academic Kids


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Cornus mas

European Cornel (Cornus mas)
Scientific classification


The Dogwoods comprise a group of 30-50 species of deciduous woody plants (shrubs and trees) in the family Cornaceae, divided into one to nine genera or subgenera (depending on botanical interpretation). Four subgenera are enumerated here.

  • Flower clusters semi-showy, usually white or yellow, in cymes without large showy bracts, fruit red, blue or white:
    • (Sub)genus Cornus. Cornels; four species of shrubs or small trees; flower clusters with a deciduous involucre.
    • (Sub)genus Swida. Dogwoods; about 20-30 species of shrubs; flower clusters without an involucre.
      • Cornus alba (Swida alba; Siberian Dogwood). Siberia and northern China.
      • Cornus alternifolia (Swida alternifolia; Pagoda Dogwood or Alternate-leaf Dogwood). Eastern North America north to extreme southeast Canada.
      • Cornus amomum (Swida amomum; Silky Dogwood). Eastern U.S. east of the Great Plains except for deep south, and extreme southeast Canada.
      • Cornus asperifolia (Swida asperifolia; Rough-leaf Dogwood).
      • Cornus austrosinensis (Swida austrosinensis; South China Dogwood). East Asia.
      • Cornus bretschneideri (Swida bretschneideri; Bretschneider's Dogwood). Northern China.
      • Cornus controversa (Swida controversa; Table Dogwood). East Asia.
      • Cornus coreana (Swida coreana; Korean Dogwood). Northeast Asia.
      • Cornus drummondii (Swida drummondii; Roughleaf Dogwood). U.S. between the Appalachian belt and the Great Plains, and southern Ontario.
      • Cornus glabrata (Swida glabrata; Brown Dogwood or Smooth Dogwood). Western North America.
      • Cornus hemsleyi (Swida hemsleyi; Hemsley's Dogwood). Southwest China.
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        Common Dogwood flowering (Cornus sanguinea)
      • Cornus koehneana (Swida koehneana; Koehne's Dogwood). Southwest China.
      • Cornus macrophylla (Swida macrophylla; Large-leafed Dogwood). East Asia.
      • Cornus obliqua (Swida obliqua; Pale Dogwood). Eastern North America.
      • Cornus paucinervis (Swida paucinervis). China.
      • Cornus racemosa (Swida racemosa; Northern Swamp Dogwood or Gray Dogwood). Extreme southeast Canada and northeast U.S.
      • Cornus rugosa (Swida rugosa; Round-leaf Dogwood). Southeast Canada and extreme northeast U.S.
      • Cornus sanguinea (Swida sanguinea; Common Dogwood). Europe.
      • Cornus stolonifera (C. sericea; Swida stolonifera; Redtwig Dogwood). Northern North America.
      • Cornus stricta (Swida stricta; Southern Swamp Dogwood). Southeast U.S.
      • Cornus walteri (Swida walteri; Walter Dogwood). Central China.
      • Cornus wilsoniana (Swida wilsoniana; Wilson's Dogwood). Central China.
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Canadian Dwarf Cornel (Cornus canadensis)
  • Flower clusters inconspicuous, usually greenish, surrounded by large, showy petal-like bracts; fruit usually red:
    • (Sub)genus Chamaepericlymenum. Dwarf cornels; two species of creeping subshrubs growing from woody stolons.
      • Cornus canadensis (Chamaepericlymenum canadense; Canadian Dwarf Cornel or Bunchberry) Northern North America.
      • Cornus suecica (Chamaepericlymenum suecicum; Eurasian Dwarf Cornel). Northern Eurasia, locally in extreme northeast and northwest North America.
      • Cornus x unalaschkensis (hybrid C. canadensis x C. suecica). Aleutian Islands, Greenland, Labrador.
    • (Sub)genus Benthamidia (syn. subgenus Dendrobenthamia, subgenus Cynoxylon). Flowering dogwoods; five species of trees.
Cornus florida Dogwood berries encased in ice,
Cornus florida Dogwood berries encased in ice, Hemingway, South Carolina

Most species have opposite leaves, but alternate in a few. The fruit of all species is a drupe with one or two seeds. Flowers have four parts.

Many species in subgenus Swida are stoloniferous shrubs, growing along waterways. Several of these are used for naturalizing landscape plantings, especially the species with bright red or bright yellow stems. Most of the species in subgenus Benthamidia are small trees used as ornamental plants.

The name 'dogwood' is a corruption of 'dagwood', from the use of the slender stems of very hard wood for making 'dags' (daggers, skewers). The wood was also highly prized for making the shuttles of looms, for tool handles, and other small items that required a very hard and strong wood.

The fruit of several species in the subgenera Cornus and Benthamidia is edible, though without much flavour. The berries of those in subgenus Swida are mildly toxic to people, though readily eaten by birds.

The dogwood is the provincial flower of the Canadian province of British Columbia.

The term dogwood winter may be used to describe a cold snap in spring.

Popular legend has it that wood from the dogwood was used to construct the cross on which Christ was crucified. God had pity upon the tree, giving it white flowers similar to the cross. The reddish center of each flower symbolizes the blood of Christ. God transformed the once towered tree into one that is small with twisted, gnarled trunks so that could never be used for the purpose of building a cross again.

External links

  • Asian dogwoods (

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