The Pacific dogwood (Cornus nauttallii) was adopted in 1956 as British Columbia's floral emblem. The Pacific dogwood is a tree that grows six to eight meters high and flowers in April and May. In the autumn it is conspicuous for its cluster of bright red berries and brilliant foliage.
In general, our native dogwoods have four-season appeal. With spring come flowers, sometimes showy, sometimes fragrant. Summer brings berries that contrast nicely with the leaves. Autumn leaves are eye-catching, with shades of red and orange and, for some species, a late show of bright berries. For one species, at least, snowy winter affords a stunning contrast of bright red branches against the white snow.
The origin of the name dogwood is anyone's guess, but two likely theories have been proposed. The first refers to a European species of dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) that was used for making skewers, or daggers, and would have been referred to as dag, dague, or dagge (dagger) in old English. The second theory is based on the reported use of the same species for washing mangy dogs. As for Cornus, it is Latin for “horn” and likely refers to the hardness of the wood.
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