Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida L.)


In 1955, the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida L.) became Missouri’s official arboreal emblem, also known as the state tree. The tree is small, rarely growing over 40 feet in height or 18 inches in trunk diameter. The dogwood sprouts tiny greenish-yellow flowers in clusters, with each flower surrounded by four large, white (or sometimes pink) bracts (colorful features that provide protection for the flowers and resemble petals). The paired oval leaves are olive green above and covered with silvery hairs underneath. In the fall, the upper part of the leaves turns scarlet or orange. Bright red fruits seasonally grow on the tree. Dogwoods are found in southern and central Missouri, and they are slowly making their way farther north.


Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo)

§10.040. State arboreal emblem. – The flowering dogwood scientifically designated as Cornus Florida declared to be the arboreal emblem of Missouri and the state department of agriculture shall recognize it as the official state tree and encourage its cultivation on account of the beauty of its flower and foliage. (L. 1955 H.B. 385 § 1, A.L. 1957 p. 726)

approved 13 June 1957
effective 28 August 1957


Photo Gallery:

Click on an image below to enlarge and read a caption. This will open a new window in the Missouri State Symbols Flickr album.

symbols/RG005_MyMO_Box6_Folder66.jpg symbols/RG005-033_MagMO_22_063B.jpg symbols/MS192_064_095.jpg


Additional Resources:

Search historic issues of the Missouri Conservationist on the Missouri Digital Heritage website.

The Missouri Department of Conservation State Documents Collection at the Missouri State Archives includes several publications on dogwoods and Missouri trees. See the publications finding aid online.

Sork, Victoria et al. “A Two-Generation Analysis of Pollen Pool Genetic Structure in Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida (Cornaceae), in the Missouri Ozarks.” American Journal of Botany 92, no. 2 (February 2005): 262-271.


Back to State Symbols Main Page