Spring Beauties…Native Dogwoods and Redbuds
By Jerry Iles OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Fairfield Co.
The spring of 2020 has not been as good as recent springs when it comes to my Redbud (Cercis canadensis) and Dogwood (Cornus florida) tree blossoms. Don’t get me wrong I’ve got some trees that are flowering very well but overall, the weather pattern has not been ideal and the trees are not quite as showy this year.
Let us look at the Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), This is a native tree to much of eastern North America ranging from southern Ontario to northern Florida. It can thrive as far west as California. One of the first trees to bloom each spring and always a welcome site after a long Ohio winter.
The redbud grows well in the understory of my primarily Oak and Hickory forest. My trees as the photo illustrates receive limited sunlight after the larger Oaks leaf out. If planted in areas where they receive more sunlight, they develop more dense blossoms and foliage.
They prefer well-drained soil but have been found to grow well in a variety of conditions. The mature redbud trees can reach a height of 30-35 feet. The leaves are heart shaped. The fruit are distinctive 2-4-inch pods which turn from green to brown as the season progresses. The structure is alternate branching. If purchasing a redbud tree, try to obtain it from a local source of trees that have evolved in your local climate.
An equally impressive native spring beauty is the Dogwood (Cornus florida). My trees are “wild” self -seeded Dogwoods. They are found throughout my woods in the understory but many people use these as landscape trees where they receive more care, sun and less competition. They have beautiful spring blossoms.
The common name dogwood comes from one colonial description of the fruit as being edible but not fit for a dog. The common name dogwood is also thought to be from the use of the wood for skewers or “dogs.” (Source: Bernheim Arboretum)
Dogwoods prefer slightly acidic (pH 6.0-7.0) well drained soil though I have found them in a variety of soils and growing conditions. They are native to the eastern US from southern Canada to northern Florida. In the north they reach 30-35 ft. in height.
Consider going native with your tree plantings. Native trees that have evolved in your region almost always have fewer issues than non-native species. I am always excited to see Redbud and Dogwood blossoms. The blossoms cheer up the landscape and let me know we have survived another winter and summer is just around the corner.