Cornus, from cornu, a horn; the wood being thought to be as hard and durable as horn. The larger species of this genua are very ornamental and hardy shrubs, mostly North American plants, and are prized, not only for their flowers and berries of different colors, but for their green, red, purple, or striped barks, which have a fine effect in winter, especially among evergreens.
Cornus alternifolia. - Alternate-leaved Cornel. - "A beautiful shrub, six or eight feet high; sometimes a graceful small tree, of fifteen, twenty, or even twenty-five feet high, throwing off, at one or more points, several branches, which, slightly ascending, diverge, and form nearly horizontal umbrageous stages, or flats of leaves, so closely arranged as to give almost a perfect shade. Recent shoots, of a shining light-yellowish-green, with oblong scattered dots. The older branches, of a rich polished green, striped with gray. Flowers in an irregularly branched head, yellowish-white; fruit, blue-black. A beautiful plant, with a variety of character. It grows naturally in most woods, or on the sides of hills; but, when cultivated, flourishes in almost any kind of soil, and even in dry situations. It flowers in May and June, and the fruit ripens in October."
C. florida. - The Flowering Dogwood. - This species is more of a tree than any of those described, and one of the most desirable of all the genus. It is a conspicuous object, in some of our woods, the last of May. The tree is then loaded with a profusion of its large, showy, white flowers, which are produced at the ends of the branches. What is generally taken for the flower is not in reality such. The flowers are small, and without much interest, except to the botanist. Twelve or more of them are clustered together in a head, and surrounded by a whorl of four large white floral leaves, which constitutes the principal beauty of the flower. These floral leaves are nerved, somewhat heart-shaped, shaded with flesh color, or purple; the fruit is of a bright-scarlet.
"The leaves early begin to change to purple, and turn to a rich scarlet, or crimson, above, with a light-russet beneath; or crimson and buff, or orange ground, above, with a glaucouspurple beneath. These, surrounding the scarlet bunches of berries, make the tree as beautiful an object, at the close of autumn, as it was in the opening summer."
C. circinata. - Round-leaved Cornel. - "A spreading shrub, usually not erect, from four to six, sometimes eight or ten, feet high, with straight, slender, spreading branches. Young shoots, green, profusely blotched with purple; old shoots, pale, yellowish-green, or purplish, thickly dotted with prominent, wart-like dots, or sometimes smooth." The flowers white, in roundish, spreading, terminal heads, or cymes, in May; fruit blue, turning to whitish color; ripe in October.
C. stolonifera. - Red-stemmed Cornel. - "A handsome plant, conspicuous at all seasons of the year, but especially towards the end of winter, for its rich red, almost blood-colored stems and shoots. The main stem is usually prostrate upon the ground, beneath withered leaves, throwing down roots, and sending up slender, erect branches, from five to six or eight feet high; flowers white, in spreading cymose clusters; fruit white, or lead colored."
C. paniculata. - Panicled Cornel. - A shrub, about six feet high, with erect branches, dotted, or speckled. "The cymes, or heads of flowers, are very numerous, on long, slender, pale-yellow stems, with irregular branches." Flowers, white, in May and June, succeeded by white fruit, which matures in August and September, when the fruit-stalk is of a delicate pale-scarlet."