Virginia State Tree

Flowering Dogwood

Tree, a state symbol

(Cornaceae Cornus florida)

Adopted on February 24, 1956.

The dogwood, (Cornaceae Cornus florida,) was adopted as the state tree on February 24, 1956. The dogwood is well distributed throughout the Commonwealth, and its beauty is symbolic of the many attractive features of Virginia. The dogwood blooms in early spring and its blossom is a tiny cluster of flowers surrounded by four white leaves that look like petals. In 1918, the state floral emblem commonly known as the American dogwood (Cornus florida) was adopted. It was selected to foster a feeling of pride in our state and to stimulate an interest in the history and traditions of the Commonwealth.

Virginia State Tree: Flowering Dogwood

Tree, a state symbol

Flowering dogwood 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

Tree, a state symbol

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 disjunct population in 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.
  • Tree, a state symbol
  • 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.

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.