USA Official State Flower Official Virginia State Flower

American Dogwood

(Cornus florida)
Adopted in March 1918.

In March 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.

Flowers are highly modified leaves that perform reproductive functions for plants that bear them. A flower petal is merely a special leaf that typically through brightly colored pigment may attract a pollinator. The actual reproductive work of the flower is conducted by the stamens (which bear pollen) and the pistil (which receives the pollen and allows it to contact the flower ovary, where a fruit is produced).

The small flower clusters on the Flowering Dogwood are surrounded by 4 large, showy bracts that are often mistaken as petals. Each quarter-inch flower has four tightly curved petals, plus two stamens and a single pistil. Flowers that have dropped their petals is a sign they likely have been pollinated. Eventually, after all the white bracts and tiny petals have fallen, the remaining flower parts will wither and turn brown, giving rise to several fertilized ovaries, the bright green berries that turn scarlet as they ripen.

  • Flower: Flowering dogwood blooms in either white or pink, depending on the cultivar, and 2 inches in diameter. Appearing March to April in the south, June in the north.
  • Plant Type: Deciduous
  • Leaf: Opposite, simple, arcuately veined, 3 to 6 inches long, oval in shape with an entire margin.
  • 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.
7.1-38. Floral emblem.

The flower commonly known as American Dogwood (Cornus florida) is declared to be the floral emblem of the Commonwealth.

(Code 1950, 7-36; 1966, c. 102.) Commonwealth

Taxonomic Hierarchy
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