Virginia State Flower
American dogwood was designated the Virginia State Flower in 1918. The selection was influenced by the Commonwealth’s association with one of America’s most noted founding fathers and presidents. Thomas Jefferson loved trees and grew more than 160 species on the grounds of his Virginia estate, Monticello. He maintained detailed records of his gardens and referenced the dogwood tree as far back as 1771.
In the late 1780s while serving as Minister to France, Thomas Jefferson presented the seeds of North American trees to his associates in Europe. He made several shipments of dogwood seeds to a friend in Paris, Madame de Tessé. His enthusiasm for trees lasted a lifetime. Shortly before his death at the age of eighty-three, Thomas Jefferson designed an arboretum for the University of Virginia.
Flowering dogwood is one of the most popular trees for ornamental planting in the United States. Dogwood trees are also extremely valuable for wildlife, which ingest the seeds, fruit, flowers, twigs, bark, and leaves of the plant. The fruits are especially popular with birds. They’re also a high-fat food source for mammals, including bears, beavers, deer, chipmunks, foxes, rabbits, skunks, and squirrels.
American Dogwood Facts
Common Name: American Dogwood
Scientific Name: Cornus florida
Year Adopted: 1918
Peak Bloom: April to June
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American Dogwood photograph by JamesDeMers
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