Dogwood and Other Flowering Plants

Top Photo: Flowering dogwood.

Last month it was redbud. Now it’s dogwood’s turn, among other flowering shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plants, to show off its color. We have a variety of flowering plants here at the museum, some native some not, but they all brighten up the landscape when they come into flower.

Dogwoods add brightness to the woods.

Flowering dogwood is the state flower of North Carolina. It typically follows the blooming of the redbud’s magenta flowers, although sometimes they’re in bloom together. Currently, redbud is just about going by and the dogwood is just beginning to bloom.

North Carolina’s state flower.

Asian, or Chinese, wisteria is also in bloom. As the name suggests it’s not a native plant. It’s vines sometimes cover the native trees and shrubs it grows near. The native variety, American wisteria, grows on the coastal plain but doesn’t reach our area. Chinese wisteria blooms before the leaves emerge whereas American wisteria blooms later in the season, after leaf out. American wisteria’s blossoms are unscented. Chinese wisteria has a strong, some would say, overpowering scent

Chinese wisteria, pretty and fragrant, but not native.
Chinese wisteria sets flowers before leaf out.

A non native shrub of the understory and open spaces, autumn olive is showing off its tiny, whitish, tubular flowers. They have a powerful, sweet scent. Each flower produces a small red fruit with silvery spots, which are edible. To me, they taste like sweet tarts. Summer camp kids devour them even though they have a rather large seed for such a small fruit (about 1/4”). It’s like eating pistachios, there’s a lot of work involved, but it’s worth the effort.

Autumn olive’s small but fragrant flowers.

The plant’s origin is Asian but was extensively planted throughout the states. First entering the states in 1830, it was later promoted as a way to control erosion and create wildlife habitat in the 1950s. It has a habit of taking over and crowding out the native plants in its vicinity. Although birds and other wildlife do eat the fruit, by doing so, they spread the occurrence of the plant through their droppings or scat.

Edible sweet-tart fruit of autumn olive.

Along the paths in both Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind, violets have been in bloom for several weeks. Common blue violet has a white form.

Nearly all white common blue violet.

Red buckeye’s flowers have finally opened. It’s an attractive shrub or small tree with its red tubular flowers and large pinnately compound leaves. Here in North Carolina, it only grows naturally on the southern coastal plain.

Red buckeye in bloom. The hummingbirds will be here soon.

There are many viburnums of many varieties planted along the paths of the museum. One that stands out is doublefile viburnum. Doublefile viburnum gets its name from the way the flowers are arranged on the typically down sloping branches of the plant, in more or less two rows, or double file. The plant originates in Asia.

Doublefile viburnum on either side of Catch the Wind signage.
In rows of two, or double file.

Things are happening quickly out of doors. I’ll try my best to keep you informed.

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