Flowering Dogwood

Cornus florida

This small ornamental tree is beautiful in all seasons. The horizontal branches from the short trunk make the magnificent spring white and pink blossoms seem to float. The red berries in the fall and winter provide color as well as food for songbirds and squirrels. According to Christian legend, the dogwood tree was not always so small. Nor did it have red berries and flowers. The dogwood was once as large as other forest trees. Because its wood was so tall and strong, the dogwood was used for the cross. Jesus understood the shame the tree felt at being used at the crucifixion. He told the tree it would never again have to grow tall enough to be fashioned into a cross. The tree would always be slender with delicate branches. The flower would be in the shape of the cross with two long and two short bracts. Reddish-brown markings at the end of the petals would remind the world of the nails that pierced Jesus' flesh. In the center of the flower would be a crown like Jesus' crown of thorns. In the winter, the red berries would remind the world of the blood Jesus shed for his people.