Common name: Dogwood
Scientific name: Cornus sanguinea
Introduction: The Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) is a small deciduous broadleaf tree which is native to Europe, Asia and North America.
Leaves: The leaves of a Dogwood tree are ovate and are bright green in colour. They also have distinctly curved veins and smooth edges. In the autumn, you will find that Dogwood leaves turn to a vibrant carmine colour. If broken apart, the leaves have a stringy latex-like substance.
Buds: Buds of a Dogwood are black and thistle-like in appearance, forming on short stalks.
Bark: The bark of Dogwood is typically smooth and grey and develops shallow ridges as the tree matures. Additionally, Dogwoods have distinctly red twigs that appear to change colour when in the sun (red) and in the shade (green).
Form: They are small trees/shrubs that have a bushy appearance. Matures trees have been known to reach 10m tall.
Dogwoods are hermaphrodite. Their small, creamy white coloured flowers form in clusters and have four petals. Eventually, these flowers get pollinated by insects and develop into small blackberries.
[The flowers of a Dogwood tree]
Dogwood trees can grow in damp conditions, as well as in many soil types.
Dogwoods provide a food source for a variety of animals and insects. For example, their leaves are eaten by caterpillars of some moth species, and insects feed on the pollen of their flowers. Their berries are also eaten by a variety of mammals and birds which in turn aids with the natural dispersion of seeds.
Properties of Dogwood Wood and its Uses
Dogwood is a hardwood and elements of the tree have often been used for different purposes. For example, their bark has also been known to be used in traditional medicines as treatment for pain.
Styling of Dogwood/Where to Find Them
Dogwoods can commonly be seen growing in the wild alongside woodland and hedgerows. They are also a popular choice of ornamental tree/plant and can especially be seen in gardens due to the colour that they provide in autumn and winter.
Associated Pests and Diseases
The Dogwood can be susceptible to horse-chestnut scale, which mainly affects the tree appearance-wise. However, younger shoots can experience dieback if affected by the Cornus anthracnose.
The straight twigs of Dogwood used to be used to make butchers skewers that were often referred to as ‘dogs’, hence came the common name of ‘Dogwood’.
Pruning and Pruning Qualities: Dogwoods are known to respond well to hard pruning as it helps to encourage faster growth and more colourful stems in the future. This can be done with Dogwood trees through the process of coppicing or pollarding.
Additionally, like most trees, Dogwoods should also have any dead, diseased, decaying or congested branches pruned out as and when spotted. This helps to not only maintain the health of the tree but also to promote better air circulation and light penetration.
The time to carry out coppicing or pollarding will all depend on the desired outcome. However, the general rule of thumb is to prune before new leaves begin to form – which is typically between February and April. Pruning outside of the growing season will then encourage boosted regrowth instead of causing weaker growth to occur.
Something to note would be that if you want to prune your Dogwood as to encourage more colourful stems, then this should be done when a Dogwood tree is young (between 1-2 years old ideally). This because young Dogwoods respond especially well to harder pruning such as pollarding, which would be used in this instance. In the following years after this, it is then advised that you prune bi-annually to help maintain their overall health and appearance.
However, if you are ever in doubt about what work your tree may require, contact your local tree surgeon. They will be able to advise you on what works may be needed and be able to carry out jobs safely. You can find your local tree surgeon here.
Growth Rate after Pruning: After hard pruning, Dogwoods can experience a period of vigorous growth.
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