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For Your Garden - December 2011

Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year. Consider adding a few native plant species to your garden soon!

flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)

The flowering dogwood is a small tree that can reach up to 40 feet in height. It grows naturally in Illinois in woodlands in the southern one-half of the state. Flowering occurs from April through June. The yellow-green flowers are very small and arranged in clusters with each cluster surrounded by four large white bracts that are commonly referred to as petals. Flower buds have a distinctly different shape than leaf buds on this tree. The bark is brown and divided into square-shaped sections. Leaves are arranged oppositely on the stem. Each leaf has a smooth edge, oval shape and pointed tip. Leaves turn shades of red in the fall. The fruits are bright red berries that are a good source of food for wildlife in winter.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Cornales
Family: Cornaceae

Illinois Status: common, native