Pa­cific Dog­wood

Whistler Traveller Magazine - - TRAVELLER LOCAL VIBE -

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STORY BY STEVE FISHER There are dozens of trees and shrubs within the genus Cor­nus, also known as Dog­woods that oc­cupy large parts of North Amer­ica, Europe and Asia. Na­tive to Western North Amer­ica, the species we see around south­west­ern Bri­tish Columbia is the Pa­cific Dog­wood. Des­ig­nated the provin­cial flower of Bri­tish Columbia in 1956, the Pa­cific Dog­wood is a de­cid­u­ous tree that ranges from 10- 25 me­tres in height. Each spring and fall it pro­duces large white blooms with small clus­ters of tiny white flow­ers in their cen­tre. The outer petals on th­ese blooms aren’t tech­ni­cally flower petals, but are ac­tu­ally ‘ spe­cial­ized leaves’ known as bracts. The Pa­cific Dog­wood also bears pink or red berries which are ed­i­ble to an­i­mals, but ap­par­ently not very tasty for hu­mans! The wood har­vested from Dog­wood trees is very hard, and was his­tor­i­cally used to con­nect horses’ har­nesses to a horse- drawn cart’s draw­pole. To this day, this part is called a Whip­ple­tree, a term which also refers to the Dog­wood it­self. Var­i­ous abo­rig­i­nal so­ci­eties have also used the durable Dog­wood for bows and ar­rows, knit­ting nee­dles, and mash­ing its roots and bark into nat­u­ral dyes.

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