Prepared by H. Bickerton and M. Thompson-Black

Eastern Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) is a small, showy tree native to the deciduous forest understorey of eastern North America. In Canada, it is found only in southwestern Ontario, where it was documented at 154 sites between 1975 and 2005. Eastern Flowering Dogwood is listed as an endangered species on the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List and under Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Across its North American range, Eastern Flowering Dogwood is undergoing a steep population decline due to the dogwood anthracnose fungus (Discula destructiva). In Ontario, the rate of decline has been estimated at 7-8 percent annually. Other threats include forest succession, herbivory by White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), habitat loss, and insects and pests. These probably exacerbate the species' decline, but are relatively minor in comparison with the aggressive anthracnose fungus.

Eastern Flowering Dogwood is a species of the Ontario Carolinian forest. It occurs in a variety of vegetation communities, and is most commonly found in habitats ranging from open dry-mesic oak-hickory woodlands to mesic maple-beech eastern deciduous or mixed forests. Eastern Flowering Dogwood prefers mid-aged to mature forests, and can tolerate some shade. It is also found along fencerows and roadsides. The species prefers lighter, acidic sandy-loam soils with good drainage. Able to resprout profusely from its rootstock following fire, Eastern Flowering Dogwood shows some adaptation to forest fire. Prescribed burning shows promise as a management tool by opening the forest canopy which results in environmental conditions less favorable to fungal disease.

The goal of this recovery strategy is to conserve and protect extant populations of Eastern Flowering Dogwood, to reduce its rate of decline, and where possible, to restore populations of the species across its range in southern Ontario. The recovery objectives are to:

  • Identify and protect extant populations of Eastern Flowering Dogwood across its native range in southern Ontario.
  • Undertake monitoring of health, threats and possible resistance to dogwood anthracnose.
  • Develop, implement and assess management approaches for dogwood anthracnose and other threats in natural stands.
  • Where possible, restore habitat and/or populations of Eastern Flowering Dogwood.

It is recommended that areas where natural populations of Eastern Flowering Dogwood occur be prescribed as habitat within a habitat regulation under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA 2007). The boundaries of this area should be identified as the Ecological Land Classification (ELC) ecosite type(s) surrounding Eastern Flowering Dogwood trees. For naturally growing trees in non-forest settings (e.g. roadsides and fencerows), an area extending 25 metres from the stem of each tree is recommended to be included within the habitat regulation.