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The Dogwood or Cornel

UK Garden Centre - Information about the Dogwood or Cornel tree

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Family Cornaceae
Cornus sanguinea

Among the constituents of the hedgerow and copse that borders many a country road, the Dogwood or Cornel is apt to be overlooked as Privet, to which it bears a resemblance by its opposite leaves and clusters of small white flowers. It is widely distributed over Britain as far north as Westmorland. It does not occur in Scotland, and is rare in Ireland. It grows to a height of six or eight feet, and is clothed with opposite oval leaves, which are smooth on both surfaces.
The flowers secrete nectar and are produced in June or July at the extremities of the branches in dense round cymes. They are small, opaque white, with four petals and four stamens; the central flower which opens first, has five petals and stamens. Their unpleasant odour appears to render them more attractive to flies and small beetles.
The flowers are succeeded by small green berries, which turn purple-black about September, and are exceedingly bitter. They are said to yield an oil which is used in France for soap-making, and has been here burned in lamps.
The Dogwood has a great variety of local names, which, however, makes it not less interesting, indicating how ancient and general is the underlying idea which has given rise to them. Dogwood or Dagwood was the wood which dags, goads, and skewers were made, because, as the Latin Cornus signifies, it was of horny hardness and toughness.


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