The General Assembly of 1941 designated the dogwood,(Cornus florida,) also know as boxwood and cornel as North Carolina
State Flower. (Public Laws, 1941, c. 289; G.S. 145-1).
The flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is one of America's most popular ornamental trees. Because of its abundance throughout the state,
the dogwood was able to fend off its most competitive opponent, the flame azalea, at the last minute. On March 15, 1941, the North Carolina Legislature
approved the dogwood as the state's official flower.
North Carolina State Flower:
Known to most people simply as dogwood, it has other common names, including boxwood and cornel. The species name
"florida' is Latin for flowering, but the showy petal-like bracts are not in fact flowers. The bright red fruit of this fast-growing
short-lived tree are poisonous to humans but provide a great variety of wildlife with food. The wood is smooth, hard and close-textured and now used
for specialty products.
Characteristics of the Dogwood
Flower: Flowers are highly modified leaves that perform reproductive functions for plants that bear them. A flower petal is merely a special
leaf that typically through brightly colored pigment may attract a pollinator. The actual reproductive work of the flower is conducted by the stamens
(which bear pollen) and the pistil (which receives the pollen and allows it to contact the flower ovary, where a fruit is produced).
The small flower clusters on the Flowering Dogwood are surrounded by 4 large, showy bracts that are often mistaken as petals. Each quarter-inch flower
has four tightly curved petals, plus two stamens and a single pistil. Flowers that have dropped their petals is a sign they likely have been pollinated.
Eventually, after all the white bracts and tiny petals have fallen, the remaining flower parts will wither and turn brown, giving rise to several
fertilized ovaries, the bright green berries that turn scarlet as they ripen.
Flowering dogwood blooms in either white or pink, depending on the cultivar, and 2 inches in diameter. Appearing March to April in the south, June
in the north.
Opposite, simple, arcuately veined, 3 to 6 inches long, oval in shape with an entire margin.
Fruit: A shiny, oval red drupe, 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, in clusters of 3 to 4. Maturing in September to October.
Twig: Slender, green or purple, later turning gray, often with a glaucous bloom. The terminal flower buds are clove-shaped, vegetative
buds resemble a cat claw.
Bark: Gray when young, turning very scaly to blocky.
Form: A small tree with a short trunk that branches low, producing a flat-topped crown. Branches are opposite, and assume a "candelabra"
The North Carolina General Statutes
The law designating the dogwood as the official North Carolina state flower is found in the North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 145, Section
CHAPTER 145. State Symbols and Other Official Adoptions.
§ 145-1. State flower.
The dogwood is hereby adopted as the official flower of the State of North Carolina. (1941, c. 289.)
Find images and a brief
representing, usually by legislative action, the
state symbols of each of the fifty states.
The term floral emblem, which refers to flowers specifically, is primarily used in Australia and Canada. In the
United States, the term state flower is more often used.