dogwood or cornel (kôrˈnəl) [key], shrub or tree of the genus Cornus, chiefly of north temperate and tropical mountain regions, characteristically having an inconspicuous flower surrounded by large, showy bracts which are often mistaken for petals. This trait is evident in the flowering dogwood ( C. florida ) of E North America, with white or pink bracts, and the very similar Pacific dogwood ( C. nuttallii ) of the West. Dogwood anthracnose, a fungal disease, has killed many wild woodland dogwoods since the 1980s. Both species are cultivated as ornamentals. Their bark, rich in tannin, has been used medicinally (as is that of the other species of Cornus ), for example, as a quinine substitute. Their hard wood is used for various objects, e.g., machinery bearings and tool handles. The fruits of some species are edible, e.g., those of the Old World cornelian cherry ( C. mas ), used also for preserves and the French liqueur vin de cornouille. The bunchberry, or dwarf cornel ( C. canadensis ), is a low herbaceous wildflower of North America. Dogwoods are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Cornales, family Cornaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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