About American Dogwood

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American Dogwood Quick Facts
Name: American Dogwood
Scientific Name: Cornus florida
Origin Eastern United States from the Gulf of Mexico and central Florida to east Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas to Chicago and southern New England
Shapes Elongated, 10–15 mm (0.39–0.59 in) long, 8 mm (0.31 in) wide
Dogwood, the common name of many of the larger of the forty or so species frequently cultivated, of hardy shrubs, trees and herbs that comprise the genus Cornus (family Cornaceae). The above species grows from 12–30 ft. high in Canada and the United States. The slow growing and compact wood is covered with a rough and brownish bark used for many purposes. The leaves are smooth ovate, dark green above and pale beneath; the flowers are in bloom April to May, and are of a greenish-yellow colour and constitute the chief beauty of the tree in the springtime. The action of the Dogwood flowers is close to Chamomile for their soothing, tonic, and adaptability to weakened and debilitated conditions of the stomach. The fruit is an oval drupe of a glossy scarlet colour, containing a nut with two cells and two seeds, which the birds are very fond of. The bark is broken into small squarish blocks. The chemical quality of the bark is tannic, and gallic acids, resin, gum, oil, wax, lignin, lime potash and iron, cornine is its active principle. Buds are buttonlike which occurs on upturned horizontal branches in winter.

Plant description

American Dogwood is a small deciduous tree which grows to the height of 10 meters and often wider than it is tall when mature having trunk diameter upto 30 cm. An old tree will stand about 5 meters tall. Leaves are simple, opposite, ovate measuring 6-13 cm long and 4-6 cm broad with entire margins. It turns a rich red-brown in fall. It requires hot and humid summer weather for new growth. Flowers are small and inconspicuous with four greenish-yellow bracts about 4 mm long. Flowers form in a dense, rounded and umbel shaped inflorescence and 1-2 cm in diameter. Flower head has four conspicuous large white and pink or red petals. Each bract is 3 cm (1.2 in) long and 2.5 cm (0.98 in) broad. The species produces clusters of red or yellow tinged berries which contains one seed each.

Facts About American Dogwood

Name American Dogwood
Scientific Name Cornus florida
Native Eastern United States from the Gulf of Mexico and central Florida to east Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas to Chicago and southern New England
Common/English Name Flowering Cornel, Borwood, Green Ozier, Flowering Dogwood, Virginia Dogwood, White Cornel, Florida Dogwood, Arrowwood, American Boxwood, St. Peter’s Crown, False Box, Corona De San Pedro, Boxwood, Cornelian Tree, Green Ozier, Virginia Dogwood
Name in Other Languages English: American-boxwood, Dogwood, Eastern flowering dogwood, Flowering dogwood, White dogwood;
German: Blumen-Hartriegel;
Swedish: Blomsterkornell;
French: Cornouiller à fleurs, Cornouiller fleuri, Cornouiller de Floride
Plant Growth Habit Small deciduous tree
Soil Well-drained, cool, moist, acidic
Plant Size 15-30 feet high
Bark Dark gray, brown or black
Leaf Ovate, 6–13 cm (2.4–5.1 in) long and 4–6 cm (1.6–2.4 in) broad
Medicinal part The dried bark
Flowering Season May-June
Flower White, cream, gray, 3-6 inches across
Fruit shape & size Elongated, 10–15 mm (0.39–0.59 in) long, 8 mm (0.31 in) wide
Fruit Season Late summer and the early fall

Bark

Bark is smooth and light gray when tree is young. As it grows, bark turns to grayish brown and develops distinctive blocky patter which looks like alligator skin.

Twigs

Twigs are slender, greenish to light brown, purplish and upturned at the tip. Leaf buds are slender, pointed and flower buds are stalked and globular.

Leaves

Leaves are simple, opposite, oval, upto 5 or 6 inches long and less than half as wide. It has smooth, slightly wavy margins and is pointed at the tip. Typically they are shiny green and smooth on upper surface and paler on lower surface. Leaf veins are deeply impressed and conspicuous. Leaf stalks are less than 1 inch long and can be either smooth or hairy.

Flowers

Flowers occur in small, greenish-yellow and inconspicuous clusters at center and above four large and showy white to pinkish bracts. The flower blooms in late April or May.

Fruits

Fruits are oval, red berries which grow in clusters and appear in autumn.

Health Benefits of American Dogwood

1. Analgesic

Bark preparations is shown to possess strong analgesic properties and are recommended to provide relief from back pain, headaches, painful muscle cramps and strain or inflammatory conditions.

2. Anti-inflammatory

Bark preparations have anti-inflammatory properties and are used for treating muscle inflammations and sore throat problems.

3. Natural antipyretic

American dogwood bark has antipyretic action which helps to lower fever naturally. Fresh and dried flowers are prepared into herbal infusions and used for lowering fever in both children and adults.

4. Antidiarrheal & antimalarial activity

The astringent properties cause tissues to constrict limiting fluid loss. Bark is effective against diarrhea. The traditional medical practices use herbal infusions of American dogwood bark, leaves and flowers for treating malaria.

5. Soothing on the throat

It has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties and reduces hoarseness and treat sore throat discomfort.

Uses

It is much used as substitute for Peruvian bark (Cinchona), from which quinine is made, and may be used when the foreign remedy is not to be had, or when it fails, or when it cannot be administered. By some, Dogwood is prized for ague, but it is better adapted to the diseases caused by weakness of the stomach and bowels, by inducing circulation of healthy blood to the parts, removing effete matter, vitalizing the tissues and speedily removing pain from the diseased parts. To overcome water brash and other stomach weaknesses, capsules combined with Golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis) and Ginger (Zingiber) in powder form can be taken after meals. “Dogwood, or Green ozier, exerts its best virtues in the shape of an ointment”—Dr. O. P. Brown (1875). Both are effective. Internally, 1 teaspoonful of the bark in 1 cup of boiling water, steeped for ½ hr. Drink ½ cupful upon retiring at night, hot or warm, or take a mouthful three times a day. 1 or 2 cupfuls may be taken. Of the tincture, ½–1 fl. dram.

Homoeopathic Clinical: Tincture of fresh bark—Dyspepsia, Intermittent fever, Pneumonia.

Culinary uses

It can be mixed with other fruits and made into jams and jellies.

Medicinal uses

  • It is used for antiperiodic and astringent properties.
  • It is used for treating malaria.
  • Use it in form of poultice on wounds and ulcers.
  • Boil the inner bark and drink tea to lower fevers and restore lost voice.
  • Bark and root infusion is used for treating childhood diseases such as worms and measles.
  • Tea or tincture of root bark is used for treating malaria.
  • It is also used in form of bath.
  • Boil dogwood bark in water and use the extract to ease sore and painful muscles.

Other facts

The maximum lifespan of American Dogwood is about 80 years.

References:

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cornus+florida

https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/PB1670.pdf

https://practicalplants.org/wiki/Cornus_florida

https://www.natureword.com/properties-and-benefits-of-american-dogwood/

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