Barking Up the Right Tree


By Karen Menard 

It has been said that a dogwood can be most easily identified by its “bark;” however, wildlife might, instead, agree that it’s really the berries. 

This time of year, native dogwood berries magnetically lure birds and other wildlife in to feed. Each fruit packs a powerful punch of protein and fat which is key to building critical fat reserves for their long distance migratory flights south. In fact, gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa) berries contain almost 40% fat, while fruit from non-native shrubs like honeysuckle (Lonicera sp.) only contain about 2% fat. Like quick currency, fatty native dogwood fruits offer migratory birds much more bang for their buck in terms of sustained energy. Fuel gleaned from honeysuckle berries is watered down, thin, and burnt quickly. 

Dogwoods are also important pollen and nectar sources for our native pollinators and additionally serve as components of the calcium cycle in woodlands.  Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) has been shown to be capable of “mining” calcium from the soil below, which, then, becomes concentrated in the bark and leaves.  In the autumn on the forest floor, this mineral can be more easily accessed by other plants, animals and ecosystem decomposers. 

As you walk the trails this fall, keep an eye out for the shiny bright red fruits of flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), the white berries of gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa) or rough-leaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii), and the beautiful porcelain blue berries of silky dogwood (Cornus amomum). Make note of how many bare stems are left and how many of those berries may have filled a migratory bird’s belly, powering them along their arduous journey south. 

Did You Know?

Almost 40 species of birds and many types of small mammals consume dogwood berries.


Photos: Red-eyed vireo eating gray dogwood berry (top) and Eastern bluebird eating flowering dogwood berry (right)

shutterstock_2095479376 700x350.jpg
wholesale air max|cheap air jordans|pompy wtryskowe|cheap huarache shoes| bombas inyeccion|cheap jordans|cheap sneakers|wholesale jordans|cheap china jordans|cheap wholesale jordans|cheap jordans|wholesale jewelry china