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.
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 edible but taste bitter.
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 Uses by Indigenous Peoples
The wood can be used for bows, arrows, and knitting needles and the bark can be used to make dye.
Dogwoods are planted for ornamental trees and the wood has been used to make piano keys.
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.
Photo: Paul Schultz