by  Ann Farnham, LLA

Ewing Township’s Environmental Commission recognizes the beautiful Flowering Dogwood, Cornus Florida, as the Tree of the Month.

This lovely tree, a native to the eastern and central United States, is hardy from USDA zones 5-9 (Ewing is zone 6b), from Massachusetts to Florida and west to Texas.

Among the first trees to bloom in April or May, the Flowering Dogwood becomes covered in greenish-white, bloom-like bracts, four in number, which are usually 3-4” wide.  The bloom period lasts up to two weeks and is followed by clusters of red, berry-like, drupes which turn scarlet in September.  Birds love them.

These trees reach 20-30 feet in height, are beautiful in flower and have outstanding summer and fall foliage.  This species produces brilliant white flowers, but there are varieties ranging from pale pink to warm red.

Flowering Dogwoods do best in acid, well-drained soil, and partial shade, although they will tolerate full sun with appropriate care.  They are, unfortunately, subject to insect and disease problems.  In the Northeast the most widely recognized scourge is a fungus, Anthracnose, which is difficult to control and slowly kills the tree.  Fungicides may be effective.

Dr. Elwin Orton of Rutgers University has developed hybrids of Cornus Florida and Cornus kousa (Japanese dogwood), which are disease resistant and now commercially available.

Some straight species of Flowering Dogwoods which have shown resistance to Anthracnose have been selected and bred and are also now available at nurseries and garden centers.

 The Ewing Environmental Commission (eec@ewingnj.org) welcomes suggestions for the Tree of the Month from all Ewing residents.