This Week’s Endangered Species In Focus: Eastern Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

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The Eastern Flowering Dogwood is a small shrub or tree that reaches 3-10 metres in height. It has oval leaves arranged in pairs along its branches. In the spring, tiny yellow flowers grow in clusters at the end of small branches and are surrounded by showy white leaves that look like petals. In the fall, its leaves will turn to rich red-brown in colour and its berries/fruit ripen to a bright red. These berries are an important food source for our bird species, which in return distribute the seeds.


Status: Endangered Nationally


Important Dates:


February 18, 2009: Species Listed at Risk


February 18, 2010: Recovery Strategy Prepared


November 18, 2010: Government Response Statement Prepared


July 1, 2011: Species Granted Habitat Protection



  • The range of Eastern Flowering Dogwood in Ontario is limited to the Carolinian Zone, a narrow band in southwestern Ontario, extending from the south eastern shore of Lake Huron, south eastward to the west end of Lake Ontario (southwest of Toronto, to Sarnia, to the shores of Lake Erie)






  • When in the wild, the Eastern Flowering Dogwood can be found at the forest edge and most popular on dry ridges.



  • The spread of dogwood anthracnose disease/fungus has caused a dramatic decline in the Canadian population. This fungus first attacks the leaves of the tree, then spreads through the twigs and trunk. The origin of the pathogen has not been established, but it is suspected of being introduced from overseas; and
  • Mowing the lawn can cause damage to the tree’s trunk or roots – this increases susceptibility to disease and pest pressure.


What YOU Can Do to Help:

  • The planting of healthy, disease-free stock is priority, therefore, transplanting is strongly discouraged;
  • In regions where dogwood anthracnose is a problem, homeowners and public land managers are encouraged to know the symptoms and inspect trees frequently;
  • Contact your local Nature Club or Provincial Park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk; and
  • Pollinators, such as bees, are in a steep decline across the globe and they play a key role in the survival of many of Ontario’s rare plants. For more information on this subject, visit or





  • The large white petals surrounding the yellow flower make an obvious target for insect pollinators in the spring;
  • The bright red fruit produced by the Easter Flowering Dogwood is poisonous to humans, but can be eaten by over 50 species of birds and small mammals;
  • Aboriginal people used Eastern Flowering Dogwood for medicinal purposes and used the wood for carving and making tools;
  • Earlier names for the Eastern Family Dogwood include; American Dogwood, Florida Dogwood, Indian Arrowwood, Cornelian Tree, White Cornel, False Box and False Boxwood;
  • The hard, dense wood has been used for products such as golf club heads, mallets, wooden rake teeth, tool handles, jeweler’s boxes and butcher blocks;
  • Cornus florida is the state tree and flower of the state of Virginia. It is also the state tree of Missouri and state flower of North Carolina

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