Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Benthamidia florida. Cynoxylon floridum.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Flowering Dogwood
Cornus florida

A red dye is obtained from the fibrous root[4, 95].

The peeled twigs are used as toothbrushes, they are good for whitening the teeth[4, 95, 102]. The juice from the twigs preserves and hardens the gums[4]. The twigs can also be chewed to make natural paintbrushes[102].

A black ink can be made from the bark mixed with gum arabic and iron sulphate[4].

The bark is very bitter, could it be used to make an insect or bird repellent[K]?

Wood – hard, heavy, strong, close grained, durable, takes a good polish and is extremely shock-resistant. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot and is used for making wheel hubs, tool handles, the heads of golf clubs, bearings, turnery etc[4, 46, 61, 82, 102, 171, 227].

  • Medicinal Use

    Flowering dogwood was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who valued it especially for its astringent and antiperiodic properties[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism.

    The dried root-bark is antiperiodic, astringent, diaphoretic, mildly stimulant and tonic[4, 46, 61, 95, 257]. The flowers are said to have similar properties[4]. A tea or tincture of the astringent root bark has been used as a quinine substitute to treat malaria[95, 222, 257] and also in the treatment of chronic diarrhoea[222]. The bark has also been used as a poultice on external ulcers, wounds etc[222, 257]. The glycoside ‘cornin’ found in the bark has astringent properties[213].

    The inner bark was boiled and the tea drunk to reduce fevers and to restore a lost voice[213, 257].

    A compound infusion of the bark and the root has been used in the treatment of various childhood diseases such as measles and worms[257]. It was often used in the form of a bath[257].

    The fruits are used as a bitter digestive tonic[222]. A tincture of them has been used to restore tone to the stomach in cases of alcoholism[4].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – cooked. The fruit is not poisonous, but is almost inedible raw[226]. When the seed is removed and the flesh is mashed, it can be mixed with other fruits and made into jams, jellies etc[226]. The fruit, when infused in ‘Eau de Vie’ makes a bitter but acceptable drink[4]. One report says that the fruit is poisonous for humans[229]. The fruit is borne in clusters, each fruit being up to 15mm in diameter with a thin mealy bitter flesh[229]. The fruit is high in lipids, uo to 35% of dry weight[274].

  • Cautionary Notes

    There is a report that the fruit is poisonous for humans[229].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed[80, 113]. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors[80, 164]. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 – 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year[164]. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification[80, 164]. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more[164]. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame[188]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage[78]. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months[78].
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any soil of good or moderate fertility[1], ranging from acid to shallow chalk[200]. Dislikes shallow clay soils and chalky soils[98, 182]. Requires a neutral to acid soil according to another report[202]. Prefers a rich loamy well-drained soil[98]. Succeeds in full sun or light shade[[188]. Plants can be trained to grow against a wall when they prefer a position in light shade[202]. Plants are very hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -25¡c. but they are subject to damage by late frosts and are rarely successful away from the warmer counties of Britain[11, 200]. They require a long hot humid summer if they are to grow well, doing best in the east or south-east of Britain[182, 200] in areas that are not subject to late or early frosts. They do not generally do very well in the south-west, where the flower bracts are often damaged by frosts[200]. Medium to fast growing when young, but slowing with age[202]. Trees are short-lived[229]. A very ornamental plant, there are many named varieties[200, 202]. It is the state flower of Virginia[212]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].
Eastern N. America – Maine to Florida, east to Kansas and Texas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.