METROPOLITAN NATURALIST
TREES OF THE BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON AREA
DECIDUOUS / SEED BEARING / HARDWOOD

The white flowers of the Dogwood trees are seen in the spring before the leaves open. The flowers have four showy
white petal-like bracts. This tree is a very common understory tree in the woods throughout our area. Varieties of
Dogwood with white, pink, or red flowers are also planted as ornamentals in yards and lining streets. Dogwood
leaves turn red and yellow in the fall, shown in the  picture below.

In some places a fungal disease called Anthracnose has decimated the Flowering Dogwood. Anthracnose is caused
by the fungus
Discula destructiva.

The inner bark as well as the root bark were once used medicinally. An infusion of these was said to be a tonic and
stimulant. This infusion or tea was also used as a substitute for Quinine for malaria.

One component of the bark, betulinic acid, has been shown to have not only anti-malarial activity but also is active
against several cancers. Betulinic acid has been shown to be active against melanoma, malignant brain tumors,
neuroblastoma, and Ewing's Sarcoma.

In the picture above, the understory trees with showy white flowers are Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida). In the
fall, clusters of red berries replace the flowers at the end of the branches.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)