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What Is The State Flower Of Virginia? How Was It Decided?

flowering dogwood trees

Virginia, like every state in the United States, has a symbol flower representing that specific state and its persona, Virginia stands out, though, with multiple symbols that represent it.

When it comes to Virginia’s state flower, it’s the American Dogwood, also known as Flowering Dogwood. It’s famous throughout the USA and especially popular in the northeastern parts of the country.

You may probably wonder how and why American Dogwood was declared a state flower of Virginia, so we’re here to provide you with an answer to that question.

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The History Behind the State Flower of Virginia

Virginia selected American Dogwood as its state flower on the 6th of March 1918, and it became Virginia’s state tree in 1956. This flower is essential to Virginia’s history, and it promotes pride and interest in this state’s tradition and history. Another fascinating thing is that Virginia is the only state that has the same plant as their state flower and state tree.

Former American president Thomas Jefferson took great pride in the American Dogwood, and during the 1770s he had over 160 species of this plant on his estate in Virginia, Monticello. He kept detailed records of his gardens, mentioning the American Dogwood way back in 1771.

While serving as Minister to France, he handed over the seeds of American Dogwood to his European associates and made several shipments of them to Paris. He was a true enthusiast when it came to this flower, which had a significant impact on the final decision to select it as Virginia’s state flower.

The Commonwealth association also significantly impacted the selection of American Dogwood as the state flower of Virginia. The state lawmakers truly believed that this flower was a proper representation of Virginia’s history and that it would make new generations feel the connection with the country’s traditions and beliefs.

judge working on documents
Image Credit: Freedomz, Shutterstock

What Dogwood is Native to Virginia?

Although Virginia has the Flowering Dogwood as its state flower, it’s not the only Dogwood species native to this part of the US. Besides it, there are other varieties, such as Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, Kousa Dogwood, and Pagoda Dogwood, also native to Virginia.

Each species blooms in spring and produces colorful berries in fall, and they have interesting foliage during winter. All of these varieties are suitable for growing in Virginia, and you could plant them in your yard or garden.

Are There Any Other States With the Same State Flower?

Virginia is not the only state that has the American Dogwood as the state flower. In fact, the same plant is also a state flower of North Carolina. That’s because this plant is also widespread throughout North Carolina, so the people in that state decided to declare it the state flower of NC in 1941.

North Carolina is so devoted to Dogwood flowers that it even has multiple Dogwood festivals in April. As American Dogwood is not just a flower but a tree, some states, such as Missouri, have it selected as the state tree.

flowering dogwood tree
Image Credit: Piqsels

American Dogwood Characteristics

Common Name American Dogwood/Flowering Dogwood
Scientific Name Cornus Florida
Found In Native to North Eastern US and northern Mexico. Widespread from Maine to northern Florida and west to the Mississippi River
USDA Hardiness Zone 5–9
Color White, pinkish-white, yellowish, reddish
The Number Of Petals 4
Bloom Time April to June
Purpose Ornamental plant
Symbolism And Meaning Pride, devotion, loyalty, safety, determination, passion, fertility

The American Dogwood (Cornus Florida), or the Flowering Dogwood as people like to call it, is one of the most spectacular deciduous native trees in the US. It’s an excellent landscaping option for all four seasons, as they show beauty throughout the year.

During spring (April to June,) you’ll notice stunning flowers ranging from white to pinkish, yellowish, and even reddish. As fall approaches, the foliage will get a fascinating scarlet-red color, while the red berries during winter will attract songbirds to your garden.

These trees typically reach between 20 and 40 feet, and they contain a spreading crown, on a single or multiple trunks, with long-lasting blooms. People love this plant because of its smaller size, so if you’re looking for a low-maintenance, beautiful flowering tree, the American Dogwood should have a spot on your planting list.

How Did The Dogwood Flower Get Its Name?

There are a lot of legends connected to the American Dogwood and its name. One of the most popular myths is that The Cherokee believed that tiny people lived among the Dogwood trees and that their purpose was to live in harmony with the nature around them.

dogwood tree
Image Credit: Jana McLain, Pixabay

American Dogwood Growing Tips And Requirements

If you’d like to grow American Dogwood in your outdoor space, it would be helpful to have some tricks up your sleeve to promote the proper growth and development of this plant. Below are all the requirements this tree needs to succeed and thrive.

Sun

The American Dogwood will grow the best when you plant it in full sun or partial shade. It needs at least 4 hours of daily sun exposure, but it shouldn’t be under constant sunlight. These plants typically perform better in partial shade, as too much sun can be stressful for them and cause possible issues.

Planting American Dogwood in full sun will require more maintenance and frequent watering than growing in partial shade, especially during the summer months.

Soil

This plant can grow in almost any soil but prefers well-drained, hummus-rich, acidic soils. You can also grow them in loamy, clay, and sandy soils, but you’ll need to keep them moist to allow the plant to thrive. It’s also beneficial for the soil to be high in organic matter.

white dogwwod tree
Image Credit: Noel V. Baebler, Shutterstock

Water

This plant needs a lot of moisture, so you’ll need to water it at least once a week and maybe even more frequently during summer. You could minimize the watering needs by adding mulch around the plant, as it will help at retaining moisture.

Insects And Diseases

The American Dogwood is prone to anthracnose, powdery mildew, and dogwood borer. As they are quite common, you should know how to fight them if you have this type of plant.

  • Anthracnose: The American Dogwood is prone to two different types of anthracnose—Spot anthracnose and Dogwood anthracnose. Spot anthracnose is more common, and it attacks the bark, leaves, flowers, and fruits of Flowering Dogwood, causing them to gain tan spots with red-purplish borders. If the infection is severe, the flowers will wrinkle and may lose petals. Dogwood anthracnose is a newer disease, and it can cause more damage to your tree. It’s caused by a fungus that spreads through the leaves, main branches, and twigs, killing them slowly. You can fight this disease by planting disease-resistant plants nearby, but you’ll also need to use fungicides to get to the root of the issue.
  • Powdery Mildew: This is a fungus that attacks the surface of American Dogwood leaves. Once the fungus is settled on the leaves, they will gain a white, powdery coating on their surface. Infected leaves can suffer from dead patches, discoloration, and early defoliation. To fight this disease, you’ll probably need to use fungicides, although cultural control should also help. If you notice the signs of powdery mildew on any leaves of your American Dogwood, get rid of them as fast as possible to prevent spreading.
  • Dogwood Borer: This is a pest that attacks dogwoods and other trees such as oak, hickory, and elm. When these insects spread, they could kill your American Dogwood tree, so you’ll need to use insecticides to resolve the problem.
dogwood twig borer
Image Credit: Paul Reeves Photography, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

The American Dogwood is a stunning flower with tons of history and meaning, so it’s no wonder Virginia has it selected as the state flower. If you live in areas where this plant can prosper, you should plant it in your yard as it will make your landscaping beautiful throughout the seasons.

You might also be interested in: What Is the State Flower of Maine? How Was It Decided?


Featured Image Credit: Dariush M, Shutterstock

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