Leaves - simple; opposite; edge entire. Outline - egg-shape, or often broad oval, or reverse egg-shape. Apex - pointed, often taper-pointed. Base - pointed and usually slightly unequal. Leaf/Stem - short (about one half inch). Leaf - three to five inches long; smooth above; pale and nearly smooth beneath; with the whitish ribs very distinct and curved. Bark - of trunk, blackish and rough, with short, broken ridges. The bark, especially of the roots, is very bitter and is used as a tonic. Flowers - The real flowers are greenish-yellow, in a small rounded bunch; but this bunch is surrounded by four large, petal-like leaves, white and often tinged with pink, more than an inch in length, reverse egg-shaped, and ending in a hard, abruptly turned point. The appearance is of a single large flower. The tree blossoms in May before the leaves are fully set. Fruit - The "Flower" is succeeded by a bunch of oval berries that turn bright red as they ripen, making the tree in the autumn, with its richly changing foliage, nearly as attractive as in the spring. Found - in rich woods, from New England to Minnesota, and southward to Florida and Texas. It is very common, especially at the South. General Information - A finely shaped, rather flat-branching tree, usually twelve to thirty feet high, but dwindling, northward, to the dimensions of a shrub; one of the most ornamental of all our native flowering trees. Its character throughout the extent of its range would seem to warrant the recognition of its blossom as the "national flower." Cornus, from a Greek word meaning horn, because of the hardness of the wood.
Newhall, Charles S. The Trees of North-Eastern America (New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1900) 135
Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkelman