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What Is the State Tree of Virginia?

The state tree of Virginia is the majestic Dogwood, a symbol of resilience and beauty that blooms across the Commonwealth. Its white and pink flowers herald the arrival of spring, capturing the heart of Virginian heritage. How does this tree intertwine with the state's history and culture? Uncover the story of Virginia's Dogwood and its enduring legacy. Keep reading to explore.
C.B. Fox
C.B. Fox

The state tree of Virginia is the flowering dogwood. This plant is native to the eastern United States, southeastern regions of Canada, and a few places in eastern Mexico. It is found in a wide range of habitats, often sheltered beneath larger trees.

In March of 1918, the flowering dogwood was selected as the state tree of Virginia, beating out the Virginia creeper. Chosen for the beauty of its flowers and for its abundance throughout the state, the flowering dogwood is also known as the floral emblem of the Commonwealth of Virginia, acting as both the state's official tree and official flower.

The flowering dogwood is both Virginia's state flower and state tree.
The flowering dogwood is both Virginia's state flower and state tree.

A small tree, the state tree of Virginia grows to heights of only about 30 to 40 feet (9.1 to 12.2 meters). When fully grown, the branches of this tree often stretch wider than 30 feet (9.1 meters) across, though the trunk of the tree remains relatively slender, with a dimeter of usually no more than 1 foot (30.5 centimeters). The bark of the tree comes in shades of gray or brown, and the leaves are green and about 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) long. The flowering dogwood is a deciduous tree and sheds its leaves each winter.

The state tree of Virginia grows well in a range of soil types and at a range of elevations. It can be found in both the wet soil around streams and in the drier soil on hillsides. Between the months of April and May, the flowers emerge on the trees, coming out before the leaves. Once the tree has bloomed, it leaves grow back along with a bright red drupe, which is edible by many animal species. By autumn, the drupes have been eaten, the seeds dispersed, and the leaves have begun to fall in preparation for the winter.

The flowers of the state tree of Virginia are themselves quite small, but their arrangement on the tree makes it appear to be covered in large flowers. Dogwood flowers are tiny, with petals that are only about 0.15 inches (4 millimeters) long. These petals are either white or a pale shade of yellow and and grouped together in clusters of about 20. Around the outside of these flower groups there are four large bracts, which are what many people mistakenly call the petals of the flowering dogwood tree. The bracts come in white or shades of pink, and the state tree of Virginia may be either of these colors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the state tree of Virginia?

The state tree of Virginia is the Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida). This tree was designated as the official state tree in 1956 due to its widespread presence and the beauty it adds to the landscape, especially during the spring when it blooms with white or pink flowers. The Flowering Dogwood is not only a symbol of the state but also an important part of Virginia's forest ecosystem.

Why was the Flowering Dogwood chosen as Virginia's state tree?

The Flowering Dogwood was chosen as Virginia's state tree because of its ornamental beauty and its significance to the state's history and culture. It is native to the eastern United States and thrives in Virginia's climate. The tree's spring blossoms and distinctive red berries in the fall make it a beloved feature of the state's natural landscape. Its selection reflects Virginia's appreciation for its natural heritage and the value placed on native flora.

Where can one typically find Flowering Dogwoods in Virginia?

Flowering Dogwoods are commonly found throughout Virginia, particularly in forest understories and along the edges of fields and roads. They thrive in the state's moderate climate and can be seen in both rural and urban settings, including parks, gardens, and as decorative trees on residential properties. Their adaptability to different soil types and environments makes them a prevalent species across the Commonwealth.

Are there any notable locations to see Flowering Dogwoods in Virginia?

One of the most notable locations to see Flowering Dogwoods in Virginia is during the Virginia Historic Garden Week, where many of the state's historic gardens and homes showcase these trees in full bloom. Additionally, Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway offer stunning displays of wild dogwoods in their natural habitat, particularly in the springtime when the trees are flowering.

What are some interesting facts about the Flowering Dogwood?

The Flowering Dogwood is not only Virginia's state tree but also holds significant value for wildlife, providing food and habitat. The tree's berries are a food source for birds and mammals, while its foliage offers shelter. Interestingly, the wood of the dogwood is extremely hard and has been used historically for making tools and weaving shuttles. Moreover, the dogwood is associated with various legends and folklore, adding to its cultural significance.

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Discussion Comments

Rundocuri

@heavanet- Unless you are planning to plant your flowering dogwood trees very close to each other, I think they will be fine. Even small yards are great places for these beautiful trees to thrive in groups.

When you plant your flowering dogwood trees, I think that you should place them at least two to three feet apart. This will give them plenty of room to grow and for their root systems to thrive.

You should also make sure that you don't plant them in areas that are too wet, because they will not do very well in these conditions. This is the reason that many people plant dogwood trees on hillsides that offer good water drainage.

Heavanet

I don't live in Virginia, but I love flowering dogwood trees. I'm planning to plant some in my yard this spring, but I'm not sure how far I should space them. I don't want to crowd them and cause damage to their roots, but I want to plant several in a relatively small area. Is this possible?

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    • The flowering dogwood is both Virginia's state flower and state tree.
      By: Ruslan Olinchuk
      The flowering dogwood is both Virginia's state flower and state tree.