Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is a beautiful tree native not only to South Central PA, but also to most of the Eastern US.
Flowering in April and May, dogwoods prefer rich, moist soil. They grow in the wild as an understory tree, which means they prefer a bit of shade but will grow in full sun. This tree will grow to 15'-30' tall and wide. It's white flowers will give way to red berries loved by birds. Dogwoods are tolerant of clay soils and are unaffected by black walnuts growing nearby. 124 Species of butterflies and moths use Cornus as a caterpillar host plant in our area.
The straight species is subject to dogwood anthracnose when stressed, but many cultivars have been developed to resist this and other diseases.
Be careful when choosing your dogwood to not mistakenly bring home a Kousa dogwood - these are from Asia - they are the ones that develop large pinkish-red raspberry-like fruit.
Other Cornus species native to South Central PA are C. alternifolia, C. racemosa, C. amomum, and C. obliqua.
Sources: National Wildlife Federation, USDA Native Plants Database, Missouri Botanical Garden
📸: Kendal (hikendal on Unsplash)