Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil & Black Walnut Fruit: Showy Red
Use: Pollinator tree that attracts butterflies and birds
Native to: Jefferson County
Although the actual flower on this understory tree is insignificant in appearance, the four white petal-like bracts surrounding the flower is quite showy. One of the best known trees in Jefferson County and Appalachia this tree can be used as a specimen plant or for naturalized areas. Its common name derives from its old use as a treatment of mange in dogs and because the small limbs of the trees were used to make skewers which were once known as dags or dogs. The Quaker Botanist William Bartram sold significant amounts of these trees and took note of a grove of them in 1791 that extended unbroken for 10 miles. George Washington has a circle of dogwoods surrounding a Redbud planted at his home, Mount Vernon. Native Americans used the bark and roots to cure malaria and the berries to make red dye. Wm. R. Peters & Company advertised in the Steubenville paper in 1856 “wooden rakes, tool handles, mallets, boxes, and cutting blocks made of the finest dogwood” at their store at 177 Market Street in Steubenville.
The tree is a host plant for 111 species of butterflies and moths in the greater Jefferson County area including the awesome Hickory Horned Devil and unique Funerary Dagger Moth. Birds flock to dogwoods for their berries, good nesting branches, and large quantity of caterpillars to feast upon. Birds such as Orioles, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Wrens, Grosbeaks, Titmouse, Nuthatches, Mockingbirds, Chickadees, Warblers, Robins, Towhees, and Thrushes are common on this tree.