Dogwood Tree Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Uses You Should Know

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The blossoming dogwood tree sounds like a very uncommon yet intriguing flower. Unlike other flora of the world, it doesn’t sound so appealing or attractive! But try not to be too hasty with judging its name because these flowers are in fact quite beautiful in bloom.

The meaning and symbolism behind dogwood flowers have to offer will surprise you. Its name is already full of mystery and it comes in different shades of flower colors that give it different flower meanings. It is most commonly used as a garden ornamental, preserved food, and folkloric medicine.

It comes in 4 different flower colors each with its own meaning. A white or red dogwood flower means purity or passion. A pink one symbolizes grace while an orange one represents happiness.

History of Dogwood Flowers

The infamous flowering Dogwood has a very rich history. It was defined in 1598 as a small tree or shrub with a cluster of beautiful small flowers. This not so common flowering tree was originally called the Whipple tree or Dog tree.

Blossoming dogwood trees are commonly native to Eastern North America such as in North Carolina and are hardy trees throughout New England. It is also native in the other regions of Europe and Eastern Asia. 

According to history, dogwoods were believed to be the first trees among other flowers that grew abundantly around Mount Etna. You would think these flowering trees are found all around the world like other trees. Sadly, most dogwood flowers are not available in the Middle East. 

The dogwood takes its common name after the Scandinavian word dag meaning a skewer. Why a skewer? It’s because the hardwood from this plant was traditionally used to make dags or daggers. Dogwoods can also be known by another interesting name. It was also dubbed the Hound’s tree because of a certain belief by some traditional folk.

Dogwoods are from the Cornus genus of the Cornaceae or dogwood family. Its flowers are actually made of flower petals or to be exact – four petals only forming into a beautiful blossom. Because it’s an uncommon tree, scientists had bred extensively varieties of dogwoods. 

In recent posts, there are only 30-60 flowering dogwood species. The tree can grow tall up to 40 feet tall and bears its flowers in early spring. Its flowers come in only three colors mainly: white, pink, and red. 

Some of these dogwood cross species include the Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii), the Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), the Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas), and the Red Osier (Cornus sericea). Other varieties include the Japanese dogwood (Cornus kousa) and the Siberian dogwood (Cornus alba).

Symbolism of Dogwood Blossoms

For its intriguingly odd name and beautiful flowers, the Hound’s tree has several interesting symbolic meanings. 

In ancient Greece, the dogwood flowers were associated with the underworld goddess of protection and hidden knowledge – Hecate. It was said that she brought abundance and blessings to families.

Additionally, the Florida dogwood (Cornus florida) has been the official state flower of the province of Virginia since 1918. Surprisingly, the state of and Missouri also honors these flowers as their state flower! Many American artists also gave highlights to dogwood flowers.

These states in the United States are not the only ones giving this flower the honor it deserves. In fact, British Columbia honors the Pacific Dogwoods (Cornus nuttallii) as their official floral motif!

There is another symbolic meaning behind dogwoods and it involves women and early spring. The flower is symbolic of a new life as it blooms in spring and it also signifies mutual attraction for a woman and her loved one.

white dogwood

Meaning of Dogwood Flowers

The very trendy Victorian language of flowers has a lot to say about the Dogwoods. During the Victorian era, many believed these flowers meant a love in adversity. Love is a powerful force so pure that they say it will overcome any high mountain or deep sea! This is precisely the reason why it is a great bouquet to give on anniversaries!

Even though this flowering tree is not the most popular one out there, it is one that has a certain mystique to it. When its flowers come to bloom in spring, each flower color has its own meaning. Here are the floral colors of dogwoods and what each means.

What does a White Dogwood Flower Mean?

White dogwood flowers were once said to be tall and mighty strong trees during the time of Christ. In this sense, its pure white flowers meant unwavering endurance and durability. It also stood for purity innocence.

What does a Red Dogwood Flower Symbolize?

The red dogwood tree and its red flowers are a symbol of passionate admiration and dedication. To top that off, this type of admiration is for the beauty and purity of your personality and social abilities! It can also symbolize love and passion.

What does a Pink Dogwood Flower Indicate?

A hearty pink Cornus flower sits very primly and proper on the lush green leaves of the tree. Seeing these pink flowers in bloom indicate an attractive charm and graceful finesse.

What does an Orange Dogwood Flower Represent?

Orange dogwood flowers have a very cheery disposition. It is symbolic of positive energy, good attitude, and happiness.

What is the Cultural Significance of a Dogwood Flower?

Different cultures have different histories for flowers. Many cultures also have different traditions and importance held for dogwood flowers. For native Americans, the flowers were a symbol of protection and safety. In a European version of popular culture, a dogwood flower sprig represented reliability and durability because of the majesticness of the tree.

In Scottish culture, a poem written by Robert Burns entitled Flow Gently Sweet Afton mentions the beauty and strength of dogwood trees.

What is the Biblical Meaning of Dogwood Flowers?

In the Christian faith, the one dogwood tree and its flowers have long been associated with the cross on which Jesus was crucified on. The tree itself also has a religious meaning of representing Easter. 

According to belief, what was once a majestic and tall tree suddenly turned into a short and twisted shrub after the Crucifixion. Blooming in groups of four, the petals also symbolized the cross and the nails pinned down on Christ. Rusty spots or rusty red spots on petals were said to resemble blood droplets.

Thinking about what could symbolize the crown of thorns? Take a look at the soft and yellow bud in the center – it represents an image of His crown of thorns. The fruit it bears also has a biblical meaning. The red berries upon the fruiting season represent the droplets of the blood of Jesus Christ. Each drop represented His pain and suffering upon the cross.

Alas, not all is in vain for the biblical meaning of the dogwood trees. For what symbolizes the death of Christ on the cross actually also symbolizes the life-giving power of His blood. It is a reminder of the second coming of Christ and a new beginning in life.

Aside from Christian tradition and belief, the dogwood flowers were also common themes that celebrate a religious milestone such as the first communion.

What is the Spiritual Influence of Dogwood Flowers?

In a religious or spiritual sense, the floral essence of a Hound’s tree flower has an incantation for revitalizing receptivity to love. It is so often associated with the zodiac Virgo, the virgin. 

This flora is believed to aid in guiding one towards a grace-filled physical movement towards a more etheric and harmonious life. Its religious symbolism can also radiate positive energy and peace.

What are the Folktales Associated with Dogwood Flowers?

Folktales have a lot of mystery behind them and the stories about dogwood flowers are surely just as peculiar! Many locals in Europe believe that the floral name came from a traditional brew made from the tree bark. Can you guess what the brew is for? Well, they say it was a bath wash for actual dogs covered in mange! 

Another story says that carrying the bark around has magical use – a magical use to ward off and protect you from feral stray dogs or wolves! So if you’re thinking of going hiking, you might want to chip off a small bark from this tree for protection.

Like many flowers, the Hound’s tree flower is a storyteller of the season. Many say she is the indicator of frost. The saying goes that when the Cornus flowers bloom, the frost will no longer be here.

What does a Dogwood Floral Tattoo Symbolize?

Like many flowers and their meanings, the dogwoods have a deep meaning when engraved as a tattoo design. Not many choose this flower for the name it rings. But in truth, this uniquely named blossom symbolizes steady resilience yet a beautiful simplicity.

It also depicts how one can overcome hardships and stand up tall in the face of trial.

Uses of Dogwood Plants

There are several quite different uses for the dogwoods as what you might think of most flowers. In most cases, it is the perfect flower to have in your garden. It can also be the perfect gift for a loved one. Besides being cherished as a beautiful ornamental shrub, it surprisingly has a lot of traditional uses in woodworks!

Did you know that the oldest discovery of a dogwood woodwork was found on Ötzi – the 5,300 year-old mummy? He was found to be holding arrows skillfully made from Viburnum and Dogwood along with a yew bow and quiver. The traditional Europeans also made use of the species Cornus nuttallii to make spears and bows. Other woodworks these were made into include weaving machines, golf clubs, dagger knives, and jewelers’ benches.

Surprisingly, the red fruit of the Cornelian Cherry species are edible and famously crafted into preserved jams, desserts, and sweet sauces. Are you a fan of fruit liquor? Then the Cornelian Cherries fruits and flowers are the perfect choices to make into sweet liquor!

The Cornus bark and roots were also used as traditional medicine. Many folks practiced using the bark mainly for treating fevers before the discovery of quinine. The common dogwood root and inner bark were used to treat muscle pains such as menstrual cramps and cold-induced headaches.

Surprisingly, combining this with cherry and spice was also used as a mouthwash for sores. A word of warning that it’s a must to always consult a medical professional before using this plant or any part of it for medical purposes.

~ image source: depositphotos/Wirestock

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