This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Trees, with opposite petioled pinnately veined leaves and small perfect yellowish or greenish flowers in heads subtended by a conspicuous involucre of 4 to 6 large white or pink bracts. Calyx 4-lobed; corolla of 4 valvate petals; stamens 4, with slender filaments and elliptic anthers; ovary sessile, 2-celled; style terminated by the depressed stigma; ovules 1 in each cavity of the ovary, pendulous. Fruit with thin acrid flesh, surmounted by the calyx, the stone 2-seeded; seeds oblong; endosperm fleshy; embryo straight. [Greek, dogwood.]
Two species, the following typical one, and C. Nuttallii, of northwestern America.
Cornus ftorida L. Sp. Pl. 117. 1753. Cynoxylon floridum Raf.; Britton & Shafer, N. A. Trees 744. 1908.
A small tree, or large shrub, with very rough bark and spreading branches, reaching the maximum height of about 400 and trunk diameter of 1 1/2°. Leaves petioled, ovate, or oval, rarely obovate, entire, pale and slightly pubescent on the veins beneath, dark green and glabrous, or minutely pubescent above, 3'-6' long, acute at the apex, usually narrowed at the base; petioles 3"-10" long; bracts of the involucre white or pinkish (rarely rose-red), very conspicuous, obovate, obcordate, or emarginate, strongly parallel-veined, 1'-2 1/2' long; flowers greenish-yellow, capitate; fruit ovoid, scarlet, 5"-6" long, crowned with the persistent calyx; stone smooth, channeled, ovoid, 3"-4" long.
In woods, Maine and Ontario to Florida, Minnesota, Kentucky, Kansas and Texas. Ascends to 4400 ft. in Virginia. Wood hard, brown; weight per cubic foot 50 lbs. Leaves bright red in autumn. Fruit often persistent over winter. Arrow-wood. Box-wood. Cornelian tree. False box or box-wood. Nature's-mistake. Florida dogwood. White cornel. Indian arrow-wood. April-June.