On grey winter days when most plants are not at their best, the deep red bark of the Dogwood bush provides some welcome colour. The name is thought to derive from the old use of their slender but very hard stems as sharp tools and weapons such as skewers (once called dags or dogs) and arrows. The wood was once used for crucifixes, and is now used in the heads of some golf clubs. The tannin-rich bark was traditionally used as a substitute for quinine. An even older (and better) name is the Whipple-tree – Chaucer used this in the Knight’s Tale. The white flowers don’t smell good but after pollination turn into small black berries eaten by birds and small mammals. Dogwood grows wild in hedges and at the edge of woodland, but is also cultivated – the ones I photographed are in the Conker park (by the old Summercross pub).
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