Western flowering dogwood

Western flowering dogwood (Gp) - Cornus nuttallii

 On this page:

Geographic range and amplitudes 


Western flowering dogwood is a small- to medium-sized (<25m tall), deciduous broad-leaved tree, at maturity with a narrow short crown, many horizontally spreading branches, straight, slightly tapered stem, and thin, light gray bark, becoming finely ridged with age. Western flowering dogwood is not grown for timber production; its wood collection is prohibited by law in B.C.

Geographic range 

Geographic element:
Western North American/mainly Pacific and less Cordilleran

Distribution in Western North America:
central and south in the Pacific region; central and south in the Cordilleran region

Ecological amplitudes 

Climatic amplitude:

cool and warm temperate - cool and warm mesothermal

Orographic amplitude:

submontane - (montane)

Occurrence in biogeoclimatic zones:
(subcontinental IDF), CDF, (southern CWH)

Edaphic amplitude

Western flowering dogwood

Range of soil moisture regimes:
(very dry) - moderately dry - slightly dry - fresh - moist - (very moist)

Range of soil nutrient regimes:
poor - medium - rich - (very rich)


Tolerances and damaging agents

Root system characteristics

Western flowering dogwood has a deep root system, occasionally with a taproot.


Tolerance to Tolerance class Comments
low light M seedlings and saplings are frequent in semi-open canopy stands
frost L not a concern in cool mesothermal climates
heat M frequent on insolated colluvial slopes
water deficit M frequent water-deficient sites
water surplus M tolerates short-term flooding
nutrient (mainly N) deficiency M

absent in acid, very poor soils

Associated tree species and successional role

In British Columbia, western flowering dogwood grows scattered in early and intermediate stages of secondary succession, usually mixed with softwoods or hardwoods on disturbed, colluvial sites. It may be a pioneer species in primary succession on fragmental and skeletal slopes, and is often present but never abundant in second-growth stands.


Silvical characteristics

Characteristic Interpretive class Comments
reproduction capacity H seed-producing after an age of 15 years
seed dissemination capacity H mainly by birds and animals
potential for natural regeneration in low light L higher, providing the presence of exposed mineral soil
Potential for natural regeneration in the open H providing the presence of exposed mineral soil
potential initial growth rate (<5 years) M varies with site quality
response of advance regeneration to release na advance regeneration does not develop in the absence of adequate light and seedbeds
self-pruning capacity in dense stands na dense stands are non-existent
crown spatial requirements H wide crowns
light conditions beneath closed-canopy, mature stands na closed canopy stands are non-existent
potential productivity na non-crop species
longevity L occasionally >100 years


Genetics and notes


Western flowering dogwood has a high aesthetic value because of its floral bracts. The blossom of western flowering dogwood is the floral emblem of British Columbia, though officially it is depicted with five bracts, which it very rarely has! Occasionally, it will bloom twice a year, in spring and early fall, the latter never coming to fruit.