Missouri State Tree (Arboreal Emblem)

Flowering Dogwood

Missouri State Tree: Flowering Dogwood

(Cornaceae Cornus florida)

Adopted on June 20, 1955.

On June 20, 1955, the flowering dogwood, (Cornaceae Cornus florida,) became Missouri's official state tree (Arboreal Emblem).

The tree is small in size, rarely growing over 40 feet in height or 18 inches in diameter. The dogwood sprouts tiny greenish-yellow flowers in clusters, with each flower surrounded by four white petals. The paried, oval leaves are olive green above and covered with silvery hairs underneath. In the fall, the upper part of the leaves turns scarlet or orange and bright red fruits grow on the tree. White flowers bloom in spring. Dark green foliage changes to red in fall. Red berries remain on tree late in fall.

Missouri State Tree (Arboreal Emblem):
Flowering Dogwood

Missouri State Tree: Flowering Dogwood

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is one of America's most popular ornamental trees. 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 Flowering Dogwood

Missouri State Tree: Flowering Dogwood

Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) is a species of flowering plant in the family Cornaceae native to eastern North America, from southern Maine west to southern Ontario, Illinois, and eastern Kansas, and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas, with a Nuevo Leon and Veracruz in eastern Mexico. In Ontario, this tree species has been assessed and is now listed as endangered.


  • Leaf: Opposite, simple, arcuately veined, 3 to 6 inches long, oval in shape with an entire margin.
  • Flower: Very small, but surrounded by 4 large white (occasionally pink) bracts, 2 inches in diameter. Appearing March to April in the south, June in the north.
  • 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" appearance.

Missouri Law

The law designating the lowering dogwood as the official STATE state arboreal emblem is found in the Missouri Revised Statutes, Title 2, Chapter 10, Section 10.040.

Missouri Chapter 10 - State Emblems

State arboreal emblem.
10.040. The flowering dogwood scientifically designated as Cornus Florida L. is declared to be the arboreal emblem of Missouri and the state department of agriculture shall recognize it as the official state tree and encourage its cultivation on account of the beauty of its flower and foliage.

(L. 1955 p. 769 § 1, A.L. 1957 p. 726)

Taxonomic Hierarchy:  Flowering Dogwood

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
    Division; Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class; Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
    Subclass: Rosidae
Order; Cornales
Family: Cornaceae - Dogwood family
Genus: Cornus L. - dogwood
Species: Cornus florida L. - flowering dogwood

State Trees
State Trees
All of the state trees, except the Hawaii state tree, are native to the state.