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Dogwoods Offer Flowers and More

Few trees are more loved than the flowering dogwood. They are one of the first trees to burst forth flowers in the spring and they color the forest during autumn with red, scarlet and purple leaves. They also provide a valuable food source for wildlife.

Dogwoods hold onto their bright red berries through late fall and early winter, long after their leaves have withered and fallen. Many songbirds, small mammals and birds readily eat these nutritious red berries.

"Wild turkeys are particularly fond of the fruit produced by this small tree, which rarely exceeds 40 feet in height," said James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D., NWTF's chief conservation officer. "In years when the acorn crop is poor, dogwoods become an even more important food source."

The flowering dogwood's use dates to pre-Colonial America. Native Americans made a tea from its bark to fight malaria, and extracted a red dye from its roots to decorate their clothes.

During the Civil War, the South, blockaded by Union forces, could not receive shipments of quinine (medicine used to treat malaria) from South America. Instead, Confederate soldiers suffering fever and malaria drank a dogwood-based potion similar to the Native American tea.

For a limited time only, flowering dogwood seedlings, and many other mast-producing tree seedlings, are available through the National Wild Turkey Federation's Project HELP (Habitat Enhancement Land Program). To order a catalog or tree seedlings call 800-THE-NWTF.



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