Considered most ornamental in spring with white bracts, the flowering dogwood tree (Cornus florida) also displays attractive autumn fall foliage color. Individual trees contain pigments that yield pink, burgundy-orange and blood red leaves across different branches.
After the small red fruits ripen, the flowering dogwood's leaves begin to attain initial hints of pink, red and burgundy tones in October. Leaves drop gradually across mid to late fall, hastened by freezes, continued windy conditions or heavy, stripping rains. In general, leaves color early but persist on branches, not immediately dropping.
Flowering dogwood grows well across a large expanse of the United States. Therefore, cooler nights in fall cause leaves to turn color in late September in northern states, peaking and dropping in October. In southern states, coloring begins in October and peaks with leaf drop in early November. In northern Florida, leaf drop happens by late November.
Effects of Stress
In years when drought occurs, flowering dogwood trees color and drop leaves slightly earlier in autumn. This is done to conserve energy and water. Disease may also cause irregular leaf drop.