From Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo:
“We take psychological possession of the things we can recognize. To me, getting to know a tree is like getting to know a human being — the more you know, the more the relationship deepens, and a person’s (or a tree’s) capacity to surprise you never ends….
“You may, for example, think you know the flowering dogwood. If it is your state tree, as it is mine, you have probably learned that the white appendages that look like its petals are technically bracts (modified leaves) and that its real flowers are in the center of what we think of as the blossom. But only when you look closer, into the dogwood’s real flowers — about twenty of them clustered in the middle, each with four yellow-green petals — and actually see them blooming, each tiny flower with its complement of four stamens and pistil, does this distinction become meaningful. Like discovering that a person you knew for one talent is accomplished in another… discovering new tree traits broadens your appreciation of the tree….
“And there is absolutely no end to the tree traits waiting to be discovered even in an ordinary backyard.”
I’ve never had the privilege of naming a plant or a tree, but if I ever did, I’d want to change the species name of the dogwood tree from its current name — Cornus florida — to Canis florida since “Canis” is part of the species name for our four-legged barking friends and they surely deserve such an honor. I realize that might cause some species-confusion — naming a tree after a puppydog — but, hey, the names are all made up anyway so people would get used to it after a while. I’m sure you agree…. (or possibly not).
I actually didn’t know that the red or white portion of the plants you see below was not the flower until I read about them in Seeing Trees, quoted above. As noted, the flower is only the center yellow part, barely the diameter of a penny or dime; the rest is a modified leaf — a rather spectacular one, I think. Intriguing to me that the plant evolved that way; presumably the brightly-colored bract is designed to attract pollinators and guide their attention to the flower at the center.
I took these photos during Dogwood Season — late March and early April here — but didn’t work on them until I had finished with my photos from Iris Season (which runs concurrently with the late Dogwood period). You have probably seen those if you’ve been here recently. Driving through parts of my ‘hood earlier, I noticed that Lily Season is starting and developing quickly, so I hope to have some lily photos to show shortly after I finish these three dogwood tree posts. If you would like to see some previous year lily photos, click here.
Thanks for taking a look!