Missouri’s State Tree Flowering Dogwood
I have always loved Missouri’s state tree, flowering dogwood “cornus florida.” When my husband at the time and I moved into our home on this Missouri limestone hillside, one of the first things I did was plant dogwood seedlings. I should have marked the sites but I didn’t know then it could take years, in some cases decades, before these trees found their roots through the limestone to nourishment that would propel their growth.
This is one of the flowering dogwood seedlings I planted in my front island. This tree has taken a good two decades to get to this size and bloom. What I appreciate is that I no longer have to duck or walk around it since it is so close to the garden path. Well, the path wasn’t there when I planted it. It sprung up several years after I planted it and had added the garden path.
The flowering dogwood seedling I spent the most time watching grow - well, hoping is more like it - is Theodore. Yes, this flowering dogwood tree has a name.
When I first planted Theodore in front of my living room window, I thought I would be able to enjoy seeing the flowers sitting in a comfortable easy chair at the window. Theodore sat in this one spot for a good 25 years standing no more than 3 feet tall. I was convinced I had planted him in a rock ledge so he was going to be a bonsai dogwood and gave up ever seeing the snowy-white understory cover dogwoods give larger trees.
Then about 5 years ago, I noticed Theodore was a few inches taller. The following year, he grew a whole foot, then another few feet the following year and then, one whole white bloom. It was a big bloom but one bloom nevertheless.
This year, Theodore was in full bloom, a 33 year wait for this flowering dogwood to find enough nourishment on this hillside to finally grow into his full beauty.
I do sit at the front window in my easy chair and look at him some mornings. Besides the beauty, flowering dogwoods add a lot to a garden’s ecosystems. The fruits are eaten by squirrels and white-tailed deer and are a preferred food for wild turkey and at least 28 other species of birds, including quail.
As an understory and forest border tree, dogwood provides cover for many mammals and birds.
When I was adding tags to my fruit trees last year, I gave Theodore one as well. It’s quite an accomplishment for this little tree and one others should celebrate.