Decline of Native MI Dogwood

Asked March 7, 2019, 8:36 AM EST

It seems like 40 yrs ago every little woodlot in MI had some dogwood around the edges. Now I don't see that. Why has there been a decline?

Kent County Michigan

3 Responses

Hello. If you mean the native flowering dogwood, cornus florida, there are some reasons. One is that dogwood anthracnose has been spreading. It is a disease that can infect native trees/bushes from imported trees. Also, habitat changes. Sun and shade change over the years. Urban development can also change the habitat. Some landowners may not like it growing on their property and remove it. Does this help?

Thanks. Yes, native flowering dogwood is my interest. There was a country road where I grew up in Kent county that had a wood lot just filled with dogwood. Now none. Is the anthracnose treatable or avoidable in a garden setting? I'm thinking of growing potted dogwood as a hobby. Can I avoid issues with the anthracnose? Thank you.

Anthracnose is a fungal disease and there are cultural means to give your trees the best chance to stay healthy. Prevention is important and that means no transplanting from wooded lots as the trees may carry the pathogen. Also, when purchasing look for resistant cultivars—kousa dogwoods are a good choice. Avoid high applications of nitrogen and make sure your trees have good air circulation. Anthracnose develops in cool wet springs and the spores move in the damp, rainy weather. Be careful about injuring the bark of the trees. And good luck!