An Assessment of Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida L.) Decline in the Eastern United States
Cornus florida L. is one of the most numerous tree species in the Eastern United States (US). Multiple studies have reported localized declines in C. florida populations following the introduction of the destructive fungus Discula destructiva Redlin (dogwood anthracnose), but few, if any, have documented changes in C. florida populations across the species’ entire natural range. Thus, a current assessment of the C. florida population in the Eastern US and implications for future sustainability is warranted. Our study’s goal was to present C. florida population estimates across the natural range of the species (Little, 1971) in the Eastern US for two periods based on state-level forest land inventories conducted by the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program. Rangewide, C. florida populations declined by approximately 49% over the time periods studied. At the State level, population declines occurred in 17 out of 30 states and biomass declines occurred in 20 out of 30 states studied. While declines were widespread in the substate units surrounding the Appalachians, the largest declines appeared to be centered within the Appalachian ecoregion.