OFFICIAL FLOWER: PACIFIC DOGWOOD
British Columbia’s provincial flower isn't really a flower — it's a tree.
The Pacific dogwood only grows in the southwest corner of B.C., making Victoria and Vancouver Island one of its remaining homes.
“It's a spectacular tree. It recalls our early history, at least in southwestern British Columbia, as a symbol,” said Richard Hebda, a curator of botany and earth history at the Royal B.C. Museum.
The dogwood, rhododendron and trillium were protected under a 1931 provincial act, but that ended when the provincial government repealed the law in April 2002.
Kevin Falcon, the minister of state for deregulation at the time, said there was no shortage of rhodos or trilliums in B.C. and saw no need to continue the protection for the three plants.
Not yet an endangered species, the dogwood no longer flourishes as prominently as it once did on the West Coast. Dogwood anthracnose, a disease infects the leaves and eventually chokes the tree, has decimated the local population.
Local plant enthusiasts are upset the municipal and provincial government have failed to step in to protect the Pacific dogwood.
“There's no research or money coming in to help [the tree]. We’re letting them die,” said Donald Bottrell, the owner of Dogwood Tree Services and an arborist for 30 years.
Scientists have created a hybrid plant dubbed Eddie’s White Wonder, which combines two types of dogwood, as a solution, but the tree is still affected by the disease.
Hebda hopes residents understand the plight of the tree.
“It's very attractive, and a tree in full bloom is absolutely spectacular. But we've lost a lot of that spectacular heritage,” Hebda said. “I hope more residents start planting them.”