Dogwoods are plants in the genus Cornus. They can take the form of either trees or shrubs, and the dogwood group is actually quite diverse. Many gardeners like to plant dogwoods, because many species are extremely attractive, and some are also useful. Dogwoods tend to do best in temperate zones, and they prefer partial sun and acidic soil which is well mixed with organic material.
As a general rule, dogwood trees are known for producing flowers, while dogwood shrubs produce colorful foliage. Both produce brightly colored fruits in the fall; some species produce edible fruit, although it may not taste very good. Dogwoods are also deciduous, losing their leaves in the fall, and they tend to have simple opposite leaves, although some species have alternating leaves.
Many dogwood species lend themselves very well to hedging. A dogwood hedge can grow quite quickly, and serve as a very effective obstacle for all but the most determined animals and passerby. Dogwood is also famous for having extremely hard wood which can be used for furniture and a variety of other tasks, although it is not suitable for big tasks, since the wood tends to be gnarled and twisted.
The most famous dogwood tree is probably C. florida, the flowering dogwood. Flowering dogwood can grow to a formidable height, producing delicate cream, pink, or reddish flowers in the spring. In addition to the primary flowering dogwood species, there are a number of other flowering dogwoods, some of which have a delicate and very enjoyable aroma. Flowering dogwood is especially associated with the American South, the region where it originates.
Dogwood shrubs can also make charming ornamental plants. Many are quite amenable to shaping and trimming, and their colorful foliage can make a very pleasant addition to the garden. In the fall, the fruits produced by the plants will help to make the garden feel less barren. Most of the fruits are bright yellow or orange, and they are very popular with birds, for gardeners who are interested in attracting birds to the garden.
Gardeners who wish to purchase dogwood can find it at many nurseries. Because dogwood is susceptible to disease and insect pests, it is a very good idea to inspect a nursery carefully for signs of disease, to ensure that your dogwood will remain healthy once you take it home.