The month of April always brings thoughts of my childhood. I grew up in Southeast Kansas and most every spring our family would pile into the station wagon and head to the Ozarks to see the wild dogwood trees in full bloom. Now I live in the Ozarks and these trees are everywhere in the woods near our home and make Spring a special time!
The flowering dogwood became Missouri's official tree on June 20, 1955. The tree is small in size, rarely growing over 40 feet in height or 18 inches in diameter. The dogwood sprouts tiny greenish-yellow flowers in clusters, with each flower surrounded by white petals. The paried, oval leaves are olive green above and covered with silvery hairs underneath. In the fall, the upper part of the leaves turns scarlet or orange and bright red fruits grow on the tree.
There is a Bible legend about the dogwood in the form of a poem:
In Jesus' time, the dogwood grew
To a stately size and a lovely hue.
'Twas strong and firm, its branches interwoven.
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.
Seeing the distress at this use of their wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
"Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so.
Slender and twisted, it shall be
With blossoms like the cross for all to see.
As blood stains the petals marked in brown,
The blossom's center wears a thorny crown.
All who see it will remember Me
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.
Cherished and protected, this tree shall be
A reminder to all of My agony."
One thing I know for sure, the dogwood tree holds a very special place in my heart and in my heritage. Every spring the flowering dogwoods bring a smile to my face as I drive along our curvy Ozark roads.