Pacific Dogwood

Cornus nuttalii

Appearance

Pacific Dogwoods grow to 15 metres tall as a shrub or tree. They are covered with white flowers in spring that are actually four to six white leaves clustered around many tiny green flowers. Their leaves are dark green, pointy with slightly toothed edges.

Range & Habitat

Pacific Dogwoods are found on the southern coast of B.C. and Vancouver Island to California. In B.C. this plant is found in the Georgia Depression ecoprovince.

Life Cycle

The Dogwood blooms from April to June and sometimes again in September. In the fall a purplish-brown cover forms to protect the next season’s flower buds. These purple covers become the white petals and they protect the inner flowers. When the tiny green flowers are pollinated these white outer petals fall off. The flowers ripen into round, red berries that are can be eaten but taste bitter.

Animal Uses

Birds, especially cedar waxwings and flickers, love the berries. Bears and beavers enjoy the foliage of the tree and the twigs are food for deer.

Traditional First Nations Uses

The wood was used for bows, arrows, and knitting needles and the bark was used to make dye.

Modern Uses

Dogwoods are planted for ornamental trees and the wood is used to make piano keys.

Status

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow. It is illegal to take any part of a Pacific Dogwood tree because they are the official emblem of BC.

More Information

www.bcadventure.com

Photo: Paul Schultz