Pacific Dogwood – Cornus nuttallii
Other Names: Mountain Dogwood, Western Dogwood, Western Flowering Dogwood, California Dogwood, Nuttall's Dogwood, hayu qhále (Kashaya Pomo)
Distinctive Characteristics: This multi-branched deciduous shrub or tree is known for its showy white, creamy white, or greenish-white "flowers," which are actually composed of 4–6 bracts around a yellow-green button-like cluster of flowers that light up the forest understory. These "flowers" bloom from April to May, and occasionally again in September. The crowns of the trees are open and irregular, with arching branches. The leaves turn pinkish red. Twigs are sometimes reddish. Fruits are clustered into bright red drupes.
Distribution: Native to the lowlands of southern British Columbia, south through Washington and Oregon, to the mountains of southern California, with an inland population in central Idaho. Elevation up to 6,500 ft. (2,000 m).
Ecosystem: Pacific Dogwood is common along stream banks in moist, open, or dense coniferous, hardwood, and mixed coastal forests. Depending on the region, it is associated with various tree and understory plant communities:
◦ Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock.
Washington and Oregon
Oregon and California
◦ Coast Range: Douglas Fir, Tanoak, Pacific Madrone.
◦ Redwood forests: Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Ta- noak, California Hazel, salal, Pacific ninebark, and Pacific rhododendron.
◦ Klamath Range: Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, White Fir, Sugar Pine, Port Orford Cedar, California Hazel, and Oregon grape.
◦ Ponderosa Pine forests: Ponderosa Pine, Sugar Pine, Grey Pine, White Fir, Incense Cedar, Oregon White Oak.
◦ Sierra Nevada: Ponderosa Pine, Tanoak, California Black Oak, Giant Sequoia, Canyon Live Oak, White Alder, California Hazel, Scouler Willow, manzanita, deerbrush, California coffeeberry, common snowberry, birchleaf mountain mahogany, poison oak, Sierra mountain misery, California wildrose, and Sierra gooseberry.
◦ Western Redcedar, Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Grand Fir, Bitter Cherry, Rocky Mountain Maple, Scouler Willow, Red-Osier Dogwood, oceanspray, Saskatoon serviceberry, common snowberry, and thimbleberry.
Maximum Age: Estimated at 150 years.
Maximum Height and Girth: Up to 65 ft. (20 m) in height; 25 in. (61 cm) in circumference.
Animal Community: Deer and elk browse young Pacific dogwood sprouts. The fruit is eaten by deer mice, red tree voles, band-tailed pigeons, and pileated woodpeckers.
Medicine: The bark was prepared as a lung strengthener and fever-reducer (Sierra Miwok), for treating malaria, ulcers, and stomach upset; part of the "10-bark medicine" (Saanich); as a laxative (Lummi), as a purgative (Plateau Indians), as a tonic (Hoh, Quiluete), and with cascara bark as a blood purifier (Thompson).
Fiber: Young shoots were used for basket-weaving. The long, slender branches were used for making baby baskets (Kashaya Pomo).
Tools and Objects: Wood was used to make bows and arrows.
Art and Ceremony: A dye was made from the bark (Nlaka'pamux). The boughs were burned for heat in a sweat lodge (Karok).
Modern Uses: The wood has been used commercially to make thread spindles, cabinets, piano keys, tool handles, and golf-club heads.
Threats and Conservation: Pacific Dogwood is very susceptible to Dogwood anthracnose, a disease caused by the fungus Discula destructiva, but it is not classified as a threatened species.