Here’s another inspirational plant for the Easter weekend- the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). The beloved flowers that appear just in time in the spring to remind us of the Cross are not true flowers at all. The white and pink ‘petals’ are actually bracts or modified leaves that surround the clusters of small yellow flowers at the center. This is analogous to poinsettias described previously on this blog.
Legends have linked the dogwood tree to the wood used to make Jesus’ cross, but this association is less literal and more a symbolic reminder of Jesus’ crucifixion. The invariant four-bracts of each blossom resemble the shape of the cross and they each appear to have been pierced at the edges. The inner true dogwood flowers can resemble the thorny cross that adorned Jesus on the cross. Finally, the red berries that ultimately develop there bring to mind Jesus’ blood.
Whatever this beautiful botanical may bring to mind, it is definitely worthy of integration in your landscaping plans. This fast-growing medium-size tree is native to North America and thrives in a variety of USDA hardiness zones. Known for its white or pink blossoms in the spring, these trees actually provide beauty year round in different forms. Once spring turns to summer and the blossoms have fluttered away, the foliage colors the landscape a pleasant green. In the fall, the leaves turn red and fruit (drupes) develops into bright crimson clusters. If Good Friday or Easter have failed to inspire you, I should remind you that National Arbor Day is next week, and the flowering dogwood might be a variety to add to your shopping cart or wish list.
*All photos are credit Bridget Campbell, used with permission, all rights reserved.
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